Saturday, July 1, 2017

Established in Christ

Today's reflection on the Daily Texts:

When I thought, "My foot is slipping," your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. - Psalm 94:18

It is God who establishes us with you in Christ. - 2 Corinthians 1:21

Two-year reading texts: Psalm 80:8-11; Isaiah 14; Ephesians 1:1-10

This morning, I went out to read today's scriptures in our screen porch, and this was the view looking east:

You might be able to see the raindrops remaining on the flowers and leaves and stems; we had some serious wind and rain last night. But this morning, the sun was out, and the flowers were aimed full-on toward the sun, soaking up the light. I was reminded of learning that flowers can actually rotate themselves throughout the day, so that they keep their faces to the sun.

In today's scriptures, I see a similar message about where to focus. Both Psalm 80 and Isaiah 14 speak about God's care for God's people, even after their unfaithfulness, even in the midst of serious pain and danger. Paul, in the introduction of his letter to the Ephesians, identifies Jesus as the one who shines the blessing of God's light into our darkness. The verse from Psalm 94 uses the image of a slipping foot and a steadying hand to describe the saving power of God's love.

But I think my favorite word from today's scriptures is "establish," the word Paul uses in 2 Corinthians. It's not a commonly used word. According to my handy Bible dictionary, it has shades of meaning that in English we might translate: confirm, establish, make sure; verify; strengthen inwardly, make unwavering. In this verse, when Paul says "us," he means himself and maybe also his associates in ministry. He's talking about controversies and conflicts with the people of the church in Corinth, some rockiness in their relationship, some criticism of him from other traveling preachers. His point is that it's "in Christ," and by the power of God, that he and the people he's writing to are strengthened, confirmed, set up, made one solid body.

Today's repeated images, of focusing on God as our foundation and source of strength, make me think of the worries, dangers, and anxieties of my own life and the life of the world around me. A while ago, I picked up a useful question to ask of God in prayer time: "What would you have me focus on?" Asking this question leads to an openness of mind and heart and spirit that is willing to be directed toward or away from certain areas. Before and during our trip for the wedding and our vacation, I had the experience several times of asking this question in prayer, while mentally holding up to God an array of various priorities I could choose from. It's like I was standing in front of God with a deck of cards: "Pick a card, any card!" But I felt that God's answer was, "Focus on me! And my presence with you!" Set down the deck of cards, and let's just be together.

So I've been trying to sit with my face turned toward God, soaking up the light. There are still a lot of choices I'll be making about what to do first, what to do later, what to let go of and not do at all. There are questions about life, small and large, near and far, that I'll continue to be puzzling over. But first I need to be established, with God, in Christ. I need to be strengthened inwardly. Without the power of God, I know I will never be made unwavering. But with the knowledge of God's presence and God's love, I know who I am, and whose I am, and that I am a part of the body of Christ, the church, a child of God's promises and possibilities. Whatever I choose when I do pick up my deck of cards, the things I do and the people I'm with will be so much better off, for the time I spend absorbing all that God has to give.

It is God who establishes us together in Christ!

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