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Friday, June 29, 2012 — Week of Proper 7, Year Two

Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer)

EITHER the readings for Sts. Peter and Paul (p. 998)

Morning Prayer: Psalm 66; Ezekiel 2:1-7; Acts 11:1-18

Evening Prayer: Psalms 97, 138; Isaiah 49:1-6; Galatians 2:1-9

OR the readings for Friday of Proper 7, (p. 973)

Psalms 102 (morning) 107:1-32

Numbers 20:1-13

Romans 5:12-21

Matthew 20:29-34

[Go to http://www.missionstclare.com/english/index.html for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

I used the readings for Friday of Proper 7

Many years ago I became convinced of something that I couldn’t really defend theologically. I’m not sure that I can defend it systematically to this day. So I hold to it as a personal conviction and hope rather than as a point of doctrine.

My experience of the grace and love of God has been so wonderful, that it is virtually unimaginable to me that anyone can escape that immeasurable love forever. I’ve become convinced that God’s victory will be total.

It seems to me that Paul gets to a similar place in his writing today. He repeats the crescendo of wonder — “If this …, then how much more …Christ.” If sin came into the world through the one man Adam’s sin, how much more is sin defeated through the one man Jesus. If death exercised dominion from Adam, how much more will life triumph through Jesus. If judgment brought condemnation, how much more will the free gift bring righteousness and grace. If Adam brought defeat, how much more has Jesus brought victory.

“Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:18-19)

It is hard to imagine anyone being excluded from Jesus’ triumph. Life for all. That’s what Paul says. (Or as some of my more literal friends like to say, “The Bible says, ‘Life for all!’ and that’s what it means.”)

If little old Adam’s measly sin brought condemnation and death to all, how much more completely effective is the goodness and resurrection of Jesus the Son of God for all. This is Paul at his most expansive. His vision of Christ is universal. The triumph is complete. That seems to be the way it is when the direction of our vision is cast toward Christ. His love is so expansive that it fills all.

There are other places where Paul does not seem so expansive. When he concentrates on human failure and obstinacy, he can get almost morose. (We’re about to enter one of those times in the upcoming passages in Romans.) But over and over he returns to the wonder of the forgiveness, grace and victory of Christ which has overcome all — and it is a free gift, not something to be earned.

For Paul (for me) that is motivation for living. All is given; so how can we keep on living so selfishly, so anxiously? All is won; so how can we keep living so fearfully, so violently? All is forgiven; so how can we keep living so arrogantly, so condemning? Live into the gift, the triumph, the love. That’s the gospel good news.

[I’m taking about a month off from “Speaking to the Soul.” For the next two weeks I’ll be writing a blog from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. That will be available from http://generalconvention.blogspot.com. Then I’ll be taking a couple of weeks of vacation. I’ll be back writing for “Speaking to the Soul” in August]

Lowell

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