According to the notes in all of my Bible translations, the dedication of this letter to the people of Ephesus is optional. Why does that matter? It matters because Paul is offering a vision of such love and embrace that we can hardly believe it applies to us. But what if the letter is meant for all those whom the word of God has touched? What if it is for us, saints and sinners, and all our companions laboring to ascend the hill of the Lord?

Journeying through the ups and downs of David and Michal, Herod and John (even the Baptizer had his moments of doubt, sending word to Jesus to ask, “Are you really the Messiah?”) we have found ourselves in the company of mixed motives and, at times, downright dirty dealers. In the mirror of their sin, we are tempted to judge ourselves.

But from the beginning of time, Paul says, we have been chosen to be blameless. This is not because we are better than our ancestors but because God has loved even these, anointing some, sending Jesus to speak directly to others, whispering through the dark times. God knows our secret fears and our stifled pride. God has seen our wounded doubt; and God’s response has been to pour out grace, to forgive our sins. God sets us on our feet like a parent picking up a child and dusting her off, longing to gather her up in arms of love.

As children, we fall, we learn, and we try again to walk with steadiness and integrity. As God is patient with our stumbles, can we be as patient with our own family of creation and of faith? As God has forgiven our trespasses, can we forgive those who trespass against us? If we can learn to claim this grace for ourselves, can we learn to extend it to one another?

God of grace and glory, as you forgive our trespasses, help us to forgive those who trespass against us, for the healing of hearts and the glory of your reconciling Spirit. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Mark 6:14-29

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Lectionary Week
July 5–11, 2021
Scripture Overview

Two readings this week focus on welcoming God’s presence. David does this by bringing the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem. As the ark arrives, David dances, worshiping God with reckless abandon. The author of Psalm 24 poetically calls a city to open its gates and welcome the great king. These passages invite us to consider how willingly we receive God into our lives. The reading from Ephesians speaks of God’s eternal plan. While circumstances may seem chaotic, God holds an eternal perspective and has sealed us with the Holy Spirit. Mark tells the sad story of the execution of John the Baptist, yet another example of a righteous person experiencing persecution.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read 2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19. How do you bless others in your daily life?
Read Psalm 24. In what ways do you honor the Creator in the ways you care for God’s creation?
Read Ephesians 1:3-14. Where have you stumbled on your faith journey and found God ready and willing to help?
Read Mark 6:14-29. When have you experienced a guilty conscience? Did you resolve the issue that was causing the feeling?

Respond by posting a prayer.

I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

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