A prayer from the third chapter of Ephesians
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Galatians 5:22-23: The fruits of the Spirit
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things
Rooted and Restless
The conference I attended in Atlanta last week was awesome. It made me (and others) think about what it means to be rooted, specifically rooted in Jesus. I was reminded of my arrival at my church in Chicago in 2004, greeted with the description of that parish as rooted and restless. I liked that. When I heard the description, I assumed that the rooted and restless was a 50/50 split. Not exactly the case. I found the church to be way more rooted than restless, which I mention because the same is true of many congregations, true of many people.
Since that time, I’ve come to realize that there are many ways to be rooted. Some are great. Others, not so much. Rooted in tradition. Rooted in dogma. Rooted in conflict. Rooted in correctness. Rooted in ideology or political point of view. Rooted in the ways things have always been done. Rooted in the culture of the community. Rooted in financial security. Sometimes, such rootedness might make us wish for uprootedness.
Thanks be to God, the Atlanta conference charted another way. It spoke of being rooted in Jesus. Think with me this morning about what that means.
In a workshop I led, I confessed that my latest favorite book of the Bible is the letter to the Ephesians. It paints a vision of church as miracle, God’s work of grace, as opportunity for the love of God to shine in the world. Is that your impression of your local church? If not, we can dream, can’t we?
In the third chapter of Ephesians, there’s a beautiful prayer for the church. I’ve printed that prayer in the column on the left. I am particularly interested in the way it speaks of the hope that the community can be rooted and grounded in love. That is the way that the community will grow, and live into its God-given restlessness. What might it mean to be so rooted and grounded in love? It has everything to do with Jesus.
It means first that all we are, all we do, all the fruit we bear, all the shade we offer wearied travelers, all the hospitality we offer to the birds of the air, finds grace at the base. Mr. Shyness, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry tells us that if it isn’t about love, it isn’t about God. We find our foundation in the love of God from which we can never be separated, love that knows no limit, love that meets us where we are, love that reaches out with intention to those most hurt by life, love with the power to transform, love that frees us from having to prove ourselves (Hallelujah!). We’ve got that love. Nothing can take it away. So I’m wondering: How can I put my roots down deeper into that well of love? How might you do that today?
It also means that as we know that love, we are called to show that love. It’s the kind of tree we are. Jim Forbes told us in seminary that we need to focus on the fruits as well as the roots, to see what fruits of the spirit emerge from rootedness in love. (See verse about fruits of the Spirit in the column on the left.) Those fruits emerge naturally, effortlessly out of the strength drawn from roots, out of our identity as beloved children of God.
All of which makes me ask a question I often ask parishioners: What is nourishing you these days? What sources of strength can you draw on, can you rely on in your life? Where are you rooted? Various kinds of rootedness can sustain for a while, but I don’t know that they go the distance. For me, the hope for my own spiritual journey, and the hope for our communities of faith, is to be rooted in Jesus, by which we mean rooted in grace and compassion and forgiveness, following his teaching of loving kindness, recognizing how those gifts have come to us and sharing them wherever we can.
The Gospel Of John | Epiphany 2020
Contact: Rev. Jay Sidebotham firstname.lastname@example.org
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