Monday, June 1, 2009

Ephesians 1:20-22 part two

. . . seated him at his right hand in the heavens, far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things beneath his feet . . . (Ephesians 1:20-22).

Last time we looked briefly at Scripture's assurance of Christ's absolute power over all of humanity -- power and authority that I sometimes forget. And so, it is no wonder I get spun up over the news I hear on radio or read on the internet. I forget who's really in charge. I forget, "the king's heart is like channels of water in the hands of the Lord" (Proverbs 21:1).

And there is something else I tend to forget, as well. I thought of it as I prepared for this lesson by re-reading my comment about the Nicene Creed. Those who memorized the Creed know the sections following "God from God, Light from Light, true God from True God . . . " declare that Christ, who is seated at the right hand of the Father, will also "come again in glory to judge the living and the dead."

It is that glorious promise -- Jesus will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead -- that I want to focus attention on in this lesson. To do that, I decided to include an excerpt of an essay I published in my book, We Believe:Forty Meditations on the Nicene Creed. The essay speaks to the second advent of Christ:

Creed Statement: He Will Come Again . . .

It shouldn’t have surprised me. For two weeks, the highway department had posted notices that they planned to resurface the asphalt, fill the potholes, and smooth the roadway. As far as I was concerned, they couldn’t fix the road soon enough. I’d slammed into the craters so many times my teeth were loose.

I suppose it’s because I saw the notices each day that I stopped paying attention to them. Before long, the signs blended into the background as I swerved down the street, trying not to crack the front axle. So when I left the house that morning and turned the corner, the unusually smooth ride startled me. For the first time in months, the mini-van didn’t rattle. I didn’t dodge potholes or worry about losing my teeth. When I stopped for the traffic light at the next corner, I noticed even my palms were dry.

Asphalt highways are not the only places ravaged by potholes. Many of us slam into craters along life’s highway. Heartaches jar us to the roots of our teeth. Failures break our confidence.

Then one day we see notices posted along the path. One promises, The rough places will be made smooth (Isaiah 40); another promises, In the twinkling of an eye we shall be caught up to be with the Lord (1 Corinthians 15); and, I will come again and receive you to Myself (John 14), declares a third. There are so many declarations we have to slow down to read them all.

Over and over, season after season, we hear them. We talk about them. We debate their meaning. Before long, they become old friends.

And that could become a problem for us.

Perhaps because the promises grow so familiar, we stop paying attention. The signs get lost in the busy-ness of punching time clocks, fighting traffic, washing clothes, paying overdue bills . . . We focus so much on dodging potholes, we no longer remember the promise that one day all who belong to Christ will leave the house, turn the corner – and find the road paved.

When we recite the words of the Creed, “He will come again,” we remind ourselves to not become complacent or grow weary in waiting. We remind ourselves to focus instead on Scripture’s unshakable promise – Christ will come again. And when He returns, He will caress every grieving heart and embrace every splintered life with His eternal love. Never again will we worry about rough roads.

Sometimes I think it can’t happen soon enough.

Questions for Reflection:

1. Read this passage from St. Luke. How would you compare the Lord's instruction in this passage with the warning in St. Peter's epistle?

2. This warning from the Church ought to cause each of us to consider what might shake our faith. And having recognized the possibility, what can you do to strengthen your faith now, while you have opportunity?

3. In chapter 21 of St. Luke (see question one), we find this instruction from our Lord. How might Jesus' words help you answer question two (above)?

4. In his book, Time For God, Fr. Jacques Philippe writes: "No one ever died of hunger because of not having time to eat." Is there an application of this principle to prayer?

No comments: