Love, lies, and blessing

The readings for Year B Proper 19 include James’ indictment of the tongue as a “world of iniquity,” Peter’s confession, and Jesus’ rebuke.

The tongue is a fire. … With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters [and siblings], this ought not to be so, writes James.

Get thee behind me, Satan! replies Jesus.

We have heard many tongues speaking of the descent of civil discourse in our country lately. We have read column inches and books are printing straight out of the presses and off the shelves with page after page of critical analysis, conspiracy theory, and plain old gossip. Our heads snap from left to right as words are lobbed across our screens and our scenes like balls at a tennis match. If, as James says, the tongue and its little movements are like a rudder, then we are in danger of being lost at sea.

Get thee behind me, Satan! nods Jesus.

Peter had just made the statement of his life; the defining claim of his career: that this Jesus was, in very fact, the true Son of God, the long-awaited Messiah, the Christ, anointed, appointed by God to redeem the world out of its suffering and sin, out of its oppressive economy of war and one-upmanship, out of death into the life that God had intended for it, for all of God’s creation, from the beginning.

In the very next breath (or at least the next paragraph, the next scene), Peter is telling Jesus that he knows better than the Son of God, the Son of Man, how to do the work of a Messiah; how to do God’s work in the world. From one tongue in Peter’s mouth came the confession that Jesus is Lord, and the proud and preposterous claim that Peter, in fact, held the true keys to the kingdom of God.

Jesus said, You’re not listening, to yourself or to me. If you say that Jesus is Lord, then the next thing out of your mouth had better be consistent with that statement. Otherwise, get behind me, Satan.

Well, we all make mistakes, as James points out. Still, the idea that if we say that Jesus is our Messiah, then whatever else we say or do should make sense in the context of that foundational, ground-breaking, fundamental statement – that seems to be a good principle for working through some of the difficulties and dilemmas we find ourselves facing today, in whatever conversations we find ourselves having.

You can’t bless God out of one side of your mouth and then curse God’s image made flesh out of the other, says James. Experience would suggest otherwise: that we are capable within a minute, within a mile, within one family, one congregation, within one person to bless God and curse ourselves or another within one breath. But what James is saying is that when we fail to love our neighbour as ourselves (or perhaps ourselves as our neighbour), then we fall short of loving God with all our heart and all our mind and all our strength, as we are commanded to do, since we have failed to love God’s image wherever it is to be found.

This is where I find Jesus’ example of anger against Peter to be helpful.

Jesus did not love everything that Peter said, or did. In fact, when Jesus went on to tell the crowd, in front of Peter, that he would be ashamed of those who were ashamed of him and his ministry, his Messiahship – we can’t help but read that as a criticism of Peter’s words and a foreshadowing of Peter’s denial of Jesus, his shame at being associated with Jesus, outside the high priest’s house.

Jesus was hurt, he was frustrated, and for a moment he found it better, wiser even to turn his back on Peter: Get behind me. Get out of my sight, for the sake of my own soul.

Because Jesus is perfect in love, in the next breath he is back on track with Peter, and even after the betrayal before his trial and the desertion, Jesus welcomes Peter back into his resurrected embrace with words of peace. Jesus will not corrupt his own soul, or speech, with bitterness or enduring anger.

James’ advice without Jesus’ humanity is an impossible hurdle. James recognizes that himself: “No one can tame the tongue.” But with Jesus’ humanity, we recognize that there are steps that we can take to feel the anger, the hurt, the outrage, the incredulity, the pessimism, the disgust, the barbs that assault and prick us every day, without cursing the image of God.

A few weeks ago, after putting out invitations to our 90th anniversary picnic, I picked up an angry and anonymous message on our church voicemail. It wasn’t threatening, but the vitriolic, corrosive anger in the caller’s voice upset me. The good thing about a voicemail, though, is there is a separation of time and space between the message, the anger, and its arrival. I wasn’t called upon to respond on the spot, nor to read the features of a rageful person. I was given the gift of time and space to sit and ponder what would make someone so mad that receiving an invitation to a party incited their anger. The more I wondered that, the more I found myself praying for the person who had called, and the people who would cross their path without the insulation of an answering machine. I wondered whether we had, in fact, all unknowing done the work of God that day by absorbing this anger into our own body, safely and harmlessly, turning it into digital nonsense and a memory soon deleted.

The gift of time, to breathe, to pray, is a blessing.

There’s a Graham Greene story in which the characters like to say that we bless what we cannot love.

“I do a lot of blessing myself,” the old man said. “It’s when you want to love and you can’t manage it. You stretch out your hands and say God forgive me that I can’t love but bless this thing anyway.” …

The old man repeated … “We have to bless what we hate. … It would be better to love, but that’s not always possible.”

I think that it’s the Graham Greene version of “bless his heart.”

No one has tamed the tongue, James says, and it is a fire burning our own souls.

Get thee behind me, Satan, agrees Jesus.

When we temper the teaching of James with the humanity of Jesus, we can find a way to live with the tongues in our heads and the secret words of our souls. We do not have to deny the evidence of our senses; we can name what is wrong with the world. We can call out lies and counter them with truth. We take a breath, take a break, even turn away for a time if we need to. We can bless; we can always pray.

We can proclaim that Jesus is Lord, that God is love, and that come what may, the way of the cross is the way of eternal life. We can let it go at that.

We can protect our tongues from bitterness and our souls from shame by keeping to the truth, and holding fast to the hope that Christ has set before us, and following him, step by step, word by word, in the way of the cross, the way of God’s unimaginable love, for all whom God has made in the image of the living God.

Amen.

_________________________________________________________________________

“The Blessing” in Graham Greene, Collected Stories (Viking Press, 1973)

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Holy Cross Day

Ach!

A splinter draws a bead of blood,

as the sting of a dead wasp exacts its revenge,

like a plaited crown of thorns twisted beyond play

the tree protests its perversion;

lungs of the world, breath of life

suffocating under the weight of salvation.

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Sabbatical: ready

I have three more Sundays at church before my sabbatical. I know; I’m spoilt rotten (just wait till you hear where I’m going with it!). I know how fortunate I am to have an agreement with my parish which nods toward the ancient and holy rhythms of sabbath. After six years of service, and during the seventh, provision is made for an extended period of spiritual renewal. Provision made how? you may ask. I’ll come to that. Sabbath rest doesn’t happen without advance planning, whether it be the blessing of a family dinner or the blessing of a two-month break from the usual routines.

This can be a time of renewal and creative energy for the parish, too, though; a chance to look around and take stock of where we’ve come together. An opportunity to imagine something new. An avenue to explore different voices, different roles, a diversity of bodies in the pulpit and at the altar. A stirring up of good and holy trouble.

It can also be difficult to envision how such an adventure will be funded, supported, and sustained. That’s where a little inspiration and a good dose of collaboration and collegiality come in handy.

The inspiration came, believe it or not, from a Facebook complaint. “I’ll never be able to take a sabbatical,” a fellow priest mourned. “My parish just can’t afford it!” Oh dear, I thought; we are also small and strapped for cash. But I think that if we believe in the rhythms of the holy calendar God has called us to – work and rest, wrestling and renewal, research and reflection, prayer without ceasing, play interspersing in a roughly six-to-one ration (except that play gets a pass to intersperse at will, since it serves many purposes) – well then with all of the creativity that such a calendar implies, we should be able to work something out.

A friend had served a neighbouring parish for about as long as I have been here. Our congregations are similar in size. They share a deep faith and some slight but perennial concern about finances and the future. Neither could sustain a traditional sabbatical with months of supply cover. Both have the desire and the love necessary to find a way forward.

So I proposed an experiment. Each of us would take a modest, two-month sabbatical. While my colleague was away, earlier this year, I alternated Sundays between the two parishes. Wherever I was, we celebrated Holy Communion. Wherever I was not, lay leaders read Morning Prayer, and lay preachers either brought their own sermons to the pulpit, or read out the one I was preaching a few miles away, having found it in the handy-dandy Google docs folder set up for the purpose of sharing the same. I was the on-call priest for both parishes. It went really well. Next month, and in November, my friend and his congregation will return the favour to me and mine.

Of course, the possibilities for deepening this partnership and its potential blessings are endless. Some parishioners suggested that the whole congregations alternate between one church and the other (we thought that might be a stretch for our first outing). Our neighbours hosted a picnic over the summer to compare notes and offer advice for Round 2. Lay worship leaders and preachers were able to stretch their skills and test their vocations a little further and a little oftener than usual. The corporate imaginations of both congregations were challenged to think beyond their own buildings, and reminded bodily that their worship was shared beyond their sight, out of their earshot, with generations that they had not yet met.

When I sang in a choir, long ago and far away, we were taught to stagger our breathing through long, sustained notes. As long as we didn’t all do it at the same time, each of us could take a breather from the music, replenish our oxygen exchange, without the note wavering or failing its audience. As long as we supported one another’s rest, no one need gasp for lack of air, and the music (the service, the worship) would continue unabated.

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Love and death

Some sermons are of the moment. Today’s was one such. So I am posting most, not all of it. The readings included the Pharisees and scribes telling Jesus off for unwashed hands, and the love poetry of the Song of Songs.

IT has been a weekend full of funerals, public and private; for those whom we have loved and those whom we have watched from afar, from the epic homegoing of Aretha Franklin to the services for John McCain in Arizona and in Washington, DC. Some of you were at family funerals; some of you were with me at the requiem for Byrdie Lee.

At the heart of any and every Christian funeral liturgy is the promise of God’s enduring love: love that is not defeated nor diminished by death. Love that survives the death and decaying of the body. Love that lasts forever, and which takes on a life of its own.

It is this promise, of God’s presence with us, all of us, the living and the dead, that makes a funeral bearable, sometimes even joyful.

The readings we hear this morning are all about the here and now, this life, this body, these struggles to get by and get on and to get along with one another. Those struggles were obvious, too, at each of this weekend’s more public funerals. They were in the background and in the lives of women and a man who dealt in their lifetimes with conflict, with hardship, with the inhumanity of humans divided by the common and sinful cause of selfishness. Those struggles were present in the funerals themselves and in the reporting around them: the people who did or did not attend, the grace and the grudges, what they wore, where they went with their words or with their hands.

There are legitimate things to report and to reflect upon concerning such things. The Pharisees and other religious groups were not out of line nor outside of normal practice in sticking to certain conventions, traditions, and rituals. Where they ran into difficulties, with their criticism of Jesus, was in elevating such details above the fundamental concerns of Christ: the love of God, and the love of neighbour, and the change that should sweep the world if only we would observe those two commandments to the detriment of any other demands on our loyalty, our allegiance, our tradition. They got into trouble because they tried to use their conventions, their traditions, their local customs and details to diminish the gospel, to undermine the message that Jesus had come to bring; to question the authority of the Son of God himself.

Because he was treading on people’s toes. Because he was rocking the boat. Because he threatened to turn the whole world order upside down, as his mother and her ancestors had prophesied: scattering the powerful in the imaginations of their hearts, and empowering the humble and the meek; the Galilean yokel and the Greek flipping over the sophisticated Jerusalem elite.

The Pharisees were afraid of what such a revolution might do to their status, their stock, and so they set up their conventions, their traditions, their rituals as armour against the onslaught of the kingdom of God.

Of course, God is not deflected by our defences. Many Pharisees came around to Jesus’ way of thinking. Nicodemus, a Pharisee, risked ridicule and worse to flout convention and help Joseph of Arimathea claim his body from the cross. In fact, the two men were members of opposing political parties, but they set aside their differences in order to serve the body of Christ together.

There is something, after all, about a funeral that brings people together, in a common cause of love and remembrance.

The stress of grief can also exacerbate difference and division. The stress of fear, the fear of the Pharisees, led Jesus to point out to them that far from preserving the peace, their insistence on convention above all else put them in danger of all kinds of sin. The twisting away from God’s will, God’s love in order to defend our own position above all else, instead of the love of God and the love of our neighbour above all else, puts us in danger of all kinds of self-deception and malice. It murders the soul.

But love heals. …

… Love heals.

So when my time comes, I think I might ask for a reading from the Song of Solomon. After all, we heard so many times this weekend, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” and such affirmation is fine, and well deserved by those we heard eulogized.

But it isn’t the approval of God that fills us with hope in the face of the unknown journey into life beyond death. It isn’t even the mercy of God that helps our souls to sing “Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia” at the grave.

It is the love of God, unquenchable, unstoppable, unearthed by the truth that accompanies our mortality, that makes our hearts soar even as they sag with grief.

It is the thought that God has whispered to Aretha, John, Dorothy, Byrdie; that God will sing to us almost as a lullaby:

“Arise, my love, my fair one,

and come away;

for now the winter is past,

the rain is over and gone.

The flowers appear on the earth;

the time of singing has come,

and the voice of the turtledove

is heard in our land.

The fig tree puts forth its figs,

and the vines are in blossom;

they give forth fragrance.

Arise, my love, my fair one,

and come away.” (Song of Songs)

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Bread of life

The readings for Year B Proper 15 continue to prove the bread of life (no half-baked measures) in the Gospel according to John, while 2 Kings and Ephesians share their wisdom.


Solomon was wise and discerning. The Ephesians are bidden to live as wise, not as unwise people. And the crowd following Jesus around the Galilean countryside continues to struggle with the meaning of his proclamation that he is the bread of life.

In all of our wisdom, hindsight, foreknowledge of the Sacrament we are about to receive, do we understand it any better than they did?

When I was a child, and I first started attending church by myself, drawn to it by the stories of the Bible and the prayer that Jesus taught us, the prayer we learned at school; while the church welcomed me, I was given to understand that I was too young to receive the Sacrament, and unconfirmed. I was an undocumented Christian, my paperwork was insufficient, and my ability to assimilate, to integrate, held suspect.

Even so, I was welcome. I was welcome to pray, and to stay, and even to approach the altar for a blessing, which was, truly, a blessing; but when I returned to my pew, and we began the post-Communion prayer, I knew that my words of thanksgiving for the body and blood of Christ were hollow, and worse, hypocritical, because in the silence of my mind I was saying, “But you didn’t give it to me. You left me out.”

I got Confirmed as soon as I could. I was too young to understand what I was getting myself into. None of us understands the fullness of God’s mercy, God’s providence, God’s unfathomable love. If we did, then we, too, would be gods. But I knew, in my body and in my soul and in the core of my being that what was offered at that altar was something I needed, something I wanted, something I could not live without. I still can’t quite explain it; I still know that it is true.

The people, in the gospel, are still asking for a sign, but they have all the signs that they need. Only yesterday, Jesus fed five thousand of them with five loaves and a couple of fish. Like the manna in the wilderness, Jesus dispensed signs of God’s providential care for God’s beloved creatures, the crowd of humanity, feeding their bodies and soothing their hungry and anxious souls. But one meal is one meal, Jesus tells them, and it will not sustain you forever. A person lives not by bread alone, but by the living will and word and breath of God. And that Word made flesh, that living, ever-living sign of God’s mercy, is Jesus.

In the Eucharist, we re-member Jesus. In physical and concrete form, in solid bread and sweet wine, we rehear, we rehearse his words from the last supper with his friends, when he took bread, gave thanks, broke it, shared it out, giving of himself, giving of God’s mercy and providence, pouring out his blood like wine, his spirit like sweetness, his life like water for the world. We re-member him in the bread, and we invoke his life, his death, his resurrection, and all that is yet to come since his ascension. We re-member him, reconstructing him in bread, and then we break it open all over again, because it is not a museum piece, not a relic, but a living memorial and reminder of God’s continuing mercy, our daily bread, the perseverance of God’s passion for us. We participate in the mystery of the Incarnation. We consume God’s grace. We are resurrected by real food for faint bodies, wine for poor spirits.

We ask the Holy Spirit to make us one with Christ, with one another, because it is not enough to remember; because it is not enough to make private and prayerful connections with the relics of Christ. Because we celebrate in community and as a microcosm of the world, the crowd on the hillside, the people, the children whom God has called into being in order that God might provide for them, in grace, in mercy, in love. Because this bread, the flesh and blood of Jesus, the Incarnation of all that we know of God, is given for the life of the world.

In The Imitation of Christ, classic devotional most often ascribed to medieval monk Thomas a Kempis, he wrote

Thou must take heed of curious and useless searching into this most profound Sacrament, if thou wilt not be plunged into the abyss of doubt. … God is able to do more than [the human] can understand. (XVIII,1)[i]

In other words, when the people tried to pry too hard into Jesus’ meaning, taking apart his flesh, his family, dissecting his words as though they were a recipe, a formula, rather than poetry, a prophecy of God’s grace; their graceless curiosity, their ungracious questioning caused them to fall into grumbling and to fall away and to end up taking apart his very flesh, and dividing his clothing by lots.

There is a Graham Greene short story[ii] in which a baker tries to persuade an altar boy to smuggle him a piece of the consecrated Host, which he dare not approach for himself, but which he longs to examine. It is the tragedy of his life that his hunger is to prove God wrong, to counter Jesus’ claims to be with us, to feed us, to love us.

Still, and without fanfare, without failure, without fail Jesus shows up at the altar, and on the hillside, at gatherings in ancient Galilee and churches in Ohio; bread for the world, unspoiled, incorruptible. We have heard this week of the signal and foul failings of the church, the holy, catholic, and apostolic church of which we are also part; how the body of Christ was abused and desecrated in unmentionable ways. It is a tragedy, and a travesty, and it makes a mockery of our sincere and heartfelt prayers of confession, of hunger, of praise. It damages the soul. It harms the body. It hurts.

Still, and without fail Jesus shows up; bread for the world, unspoiled, incorruptible, inviting us to participate in the healing of our own souls and bodies, in the healing of the world, not ignoring its hunger or hurt, but echoing the incarnation of love with which God has approached us.

The world did not understand Jesus. The world would not accept his self-sacrifice, preferring to keep to its own power, its own wisdom, its own discernment instead of recognizing the foolishness of God which is wiser than human understanding.

None of that stopped or slowed or forestalled or diminished Jesus’ work of salvation. He gave his flesh for the world, his Incarnation to feed the world with God’s mercy, his life to seed the world with the gospel of God’s grace towards all that God has made. He knew what he was doing.

The Imitation of Christ concludes,

Go forward, therefore, with simple and undoubting faith, and draw nigh unto the Sacrament with supplicating reverence. And whatsoever thou art not enabled to understand, that commit without anxiety to Almighty God. …
For faith and love do here especially take the highest place, and work in hidden ways in this most holy and excellent Sacrament. God who is eternal and incomprehensible, and of infinite power, doth great and inscrutable things in heaven and in earth, and His wonderful works are past finding out. If the words of God were of such sort that they might easily be comprehended by human reason, they should no longer be called wonderful or unspeakable (XVIII,4-5)[iii]

Wonderful, unspeakable, and yet so simple. There is bread, and there is wine, and there is Jesus with us. And the mercy of God endures forever.

Amen.


[i] Thomas A Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, via the Gutenberg Project http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/1653/pg1653-images.html

[ii] Graham Greene, “The Hint of an Explanation,” in Collected Stories (Viking Press, 1973)

[iii] A Kempis, op cit

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By halves

I cycle the scant half-mile to the boat launch.

It takes me nearly half an hour to swim

half a mile across the choppy, floppy lake.

I make it halfway back up the hill before

I have to stand up on the pedals to pump to the top,

trailing half the weed of the Great Lakes in my wake.

I am half a century old, which in cat years

is practically Methusaleh. Even so

my mother’s mantra haunts me:

Never do things by halves;

when I get home, I eat the whole cookie.

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Be angry, but do not sin

The readings for Year B Proper 14 are available here and include this from Ephesians 4-5:

Putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. … Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.


There is plenty going on just in this tightly-packed passage of Ephesians: tell the truth; be careful with your anger; consider how you gain and how you spend your worldly goods, not out of plain self-interest, but for the good of those who need your goodness; be imitators of Christ in your dealings with one another. Live in love, as Christ has loved us.

Walk in love, because Christ has loved us.

For me, it is always striking to read that the letter of the Bible says, go ahead, get angry; just do not sin. Many of you will have grown up like me in households where we were discouraged from getting angry, to say the least; where anger was the privilege of a powerful few, and the rest were expected to keep meek and stay mild; where we were taught that, for us, anger is the sin. There is something freeing, for us, in being instructed by scripture to be angry, and to be expected to be angry without it becoming a sin.

Anger is dangerous. That much seems evident. From the days of Cain who killed Abel out of jealousy, simple self-interest that gave birth to murderous anger; to last year’s horrific events in Charlottesville, Va, when Heather Heyer was killed by someone whose unrighteous, self-interested, jealous anger again spilled over into deadly violence; we know that anger that is born out of envy, greed, corruption, selfishness, hatred; anger that is born out of enmity leads most directly to deadly sin.

But there is an anger, born of love, that leads towards life. William Barclay, in his commentary on the epistle, notes that

There must be anger in the Christian life, but it must be the right kind of anger. Bad temper and irritability are without defence; but there is an anger without which the world would be a poorer place. The world would have lost much without the blazing anger of Wilberforce against the slave trade …
The anger which is selfish and uncontrolled is a sinful and hurtful thing, which must be banished from the Christian life. But the selfless anger which is disciplined into the service of Christ and of our fellow men is one of the great dynamic forces of the world.”[i]

Selfless anger which is disciplined into the service of Christ and of our fellow folk is one of the great dynamic forces of the world.

Look at the times when Jesus became angry: when people would try to deny another the chance for healing, for forgiveness, for a blessing, because of the Sabbath, because of their status, because of their stature. When people used corruption, greed, self-righteousness to turn others away from the temple of the living God. Whatever would get in the way of loving God and loving one’s neighbour; that is what made Christ angry. Whatever would get in the way of walking in love, as Christ loved us.

When we tame Christ’s anger out of the story, we lose a dynamic force. Barclay again says, “There is a place for the tiger in life; and when the tiger becomes a tabby cat, something is lost.”[ii]

The instruction to anger without sin is related to the instruction to tell one another the truth. Christ was not one to leave too many things unsaid, one might think. One who is righteous in anger and does not sin will not leave evil to go uncontested.

When evil is abroad, promoting its lies in subtle or in strident fashion, undermining the foundations of love on which the kingdom of God is constructed; when it ranks people by their skin, by their status; when it ranks people by their similarity to the one doing the ranking, then unless that one is God’s own self, it is a lie.

Avoiding sin is not the same thing as burying truthful, rightful, roaring anger at such lies. When that tiger is caged, something is lost. Righteous anger is the integrity of the tiger as a free, whole creature of God, raging to be set free.

Here’s a really small and quiet and totally manageable real-life example. I once had a conversation about the kind of bike lines that we now have outside the church. They were not a fan, labelling them a liberal conspiracy. Then, the person said, “They’re just gay, really.”

It was, I promise you, just as easy to tell that person, “Using ‘gay’ as a slur is offensive and I don’t appreciate it,” as it would have been to let it go.

The menace of casual slurs, which pile up like trash stinking up the lives of people we love; these careless lies and injuries are compounded by the things that go unsaid by those of us who know better, and say nothing. I have done that, raised to stay meek and mild, conflict-avoidant; I have stayed silent enough times to know that it is harder on my conscience, in the long run, than speaking out is on my confidence.

Whatever gets in the way of loving God, loving our neighbours, walking in love as Christ loves us; these things should make us angry.

“Do not make room for the devil,” the letter warns. Do not allow the Father of Lies to make you doubt the righteousness of Christ’s anger wherever false prophets set up roadblocks to the love of God and the true love of one’s neighbour.

Even so, anger is dangerous. Hence, the letter-writer advises “do not let the sun go down on your anger;” rather, “Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.”

Do not let the sun go down on your anger, because you do not want it to infect your dreams, over which you have no control. Righteous anger can be used to the advantage of the kingdom of God; championing the abolition of slavery; fighting the Nazi holocaust; marching to make sure that everyone has heard and understood that Black Lives Matter; defending the defenceless and the endangered. But anger is only useful as a tool in the hands of one who has control of it, and who is not controlled by it. It must always be servant only to the purposes of love, of kindness, of a tender heart, promoting the love of God and the true love of neighbour, if it is not to become sin.

Walk in love, as Christ loves us, and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Walk in love. Let truth-telling, let anger, let our words, our work, even let forgiveness serve only the purposes and pathways of love.

Walk in love. Walk like a tiger, wildly, freely, loudly, dangerously. Love like Christ, selflessly, completely, without reservation, without exception, without end. There is no sin in that.


[i] William Barclay, The Letters to the Galatians and Ephesians, The Daily Study Bible, Revised Edition (The Westminster Press, 1976), 155-156

[ii] Barclay, 156

This post has been edited.

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