Saturday, February 16, 2013
Morning Psalms: 30, 32 | Evening Psalms: 42, 43
Deuteronomy 7:17-26 | Titus 3:1-15 | John 1:43-51
In the letter to Titus, I can hear “Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!” “Watch out for the divisive person! If the first and second scoldings don’t work, throw the self-condemned bum out” (Titus 3:10). There must have been plenty of such people as he affirms previous testimony that “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons” (Titus 1:12). Titus is also warned about the circumcision group (Titus 1:10-11); Paul urges him to “avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law” (Titus 3:9). Paul also exhorts Titus to “Keep the main thing, the main thing.” But still, there are plenty of adjudged Cretans, divisive people, lovers of status and devotees of controversies all around us, and we are instructed to “have nothing more to do with [them]” (Titus 3:10). Look before you leap! Look at the qualifications for the one who enforces the directive (Titus 1:5-9).
The whole of this challenging and convicting book is read in consecutive order early in Lent. This seems appropriate considering we were smudged with ashes last Wednesday. It’s interesting, we can only see others’ marks on that day. Can’t tell if ours is artfully done with a self evaluated appropriate amount and design. Did you peek?
I keep a short vignette in my “back pocket.” It’s a church joke’s ending. A desert island’s only occupant is asked by the rescuing ship’s captain why he, the sole person, built two church huts, his answer “I got fed up in the first one and....” Sadly, I closed a church some years ago. There were only two couples left, and they wanted nothing more than a monthly Eucharist. They didn’t care about the message for others.
Lest we find ourselves sole survivors through concentration on winnowing out “the other,” let’s call ourselves to live into Paul’s exhortation to live as a witness (rewritten as a prayer):
Lord help us to stress these things: that Christ generously pours out renewal by the Holy Spirit, and that the washing of rebirth saves. Help us tell of our justification by His grace, which made us heirs with Christ and gave us the hope of eternal life, so that we who have trusted in God may be careful to devote ourselves to doing what is good in witness of
our Savior. Amen.
The Rev. Dr. Mike Morrissey (MDiv 1992, DMin 2009)
Vicar, St. Bede Episcopal Church
Port Orchard, WA
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