St Thomas the Apostle

Pastoral Musing May 5, 2020

May 5, 2020 (Conversion of St. Augustine, Bishop and Doctor) 

I had a “V8 moment” Sunday evening. (Those over 50 know what this is, the rest can Google it).    

  It happened when I was praying Evening Prayer. The second lesson that evening was 2 Corinthians 5.

  Verses 13-21 grabbed my attention. Not right away, but as I prayed the General Thanksgiving (BCP pg. 33), the moment hit me.  “…And, we beseech thee, give us that due sense of all thy mercies, that our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful, and that we show forth thy praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up ourselves to thy service, and by walking before thee in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life…”

  2 Corinthians 5:13-21 summarizes St. Paul’s understanding of redemption; his understanding of what it means to be “saved.” To St. Paul, salvation isn’t a “get out of hell free card!” It is gaining a redeemed life (now) that continues unto everlasting life (i.e. Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hathbegun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ;”).  

   2 Corinthians 5:13-17 states “For the love of Christ constraineth us (Gk. “holds together, like mud pressed together by hands); because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again…Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

  THIS is what it means to be saved! Not… “I’m saved, so I can live as I want now, because all will be okay at the end of life.” NO!  Redemption in Christ is… “Because Jesus died and rose again, and by the grace of Holy Baptism I am in Him (Romans 6:3-6 and Galatians 3:27-29), I am now a new creature who is to live the life of Christ in me right now and into eternity!

  In the General Thanksgiving we pray that we will show forth our thankfulness for this redemption by giving up ourselves in the service of Christ with our words and our actions. When lip and life, audio and video are in sync, then we can have confidence we have been redeemed.

If not, well…

  The key component to redemption is the reconciliation Jesus has wrought for us with the Father. Jesus’ death upon the cross has reconciled man to God. In Adam, man fell into sin. The death of Christ has reversed this, so that now all who are in Christ are reconciled with God and are redeemed.  We know this is true because of the resurrection. The empty tomb is the proof that redemption comes exclusively from Christ. All who are being redeemed must be in Christ.

  2 Corinthians 5:18, 19 goes on to state: “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.”

  This is an exhortation to action! Because the Father has reconciled us to Himself in Christ, we now have the word of reconciliation (the Gospel) and are to bring that Word to others and be instruments of reconciliation to them. In doing so, God uses us in the redemption of others! What a wonderful blessing!

  Salvation is not about “me.” It is about “me” being in Christ, and His love shed abroad in my heart made evident in this world, which is given away to those around me so they too might be reconciled and redeemed in Christ.  

  This is my musing for today. Thank you for reading it.