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Archive for May 17th, 2015

Today  is also the 7th Sunday of Easter, the Sunday always in between Ascension and Pentecost.  The Gospel reading is St. John 17:11b–19    and these verses were the basis of the sermon I wrote and preached:

 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.”

This reminded me of  The Letter to Diognetus.   Diognetus, was  a pagan of high social or political rank and the author was a Christian and not named. It seems that this unnamed Christian was asked to give a defense of the Christian faith and Church to a Roman nobleman. We are in the world, yet not of the world. As the eastern Orthodox begin their Liturgy:  “Blessed is the kingdom of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages.”  It says to me that by His grace we have been “transferred” (Colossians 1: 12-14) into His Kingdom in the midst of the world and in Christ, we pray for the Holy Spirit for the life of the world in the preaching of Christ.  This late 2nd Century letter is a clear defense of the faith and this letter is becoming more relevant in the 21st century day by day, yet it is also a word of encouragement for the Church today besieged within and without.:

“Christians are not distinguished from the rest of mankind by either country, speech, or customs;  the fact is, they nowhere settle in cities of their own; they use no peculiar language; they cultivate no eccentric mode of life. Certainly, this creed of theirs is no discovery due to some fancy or speculation of inquisitive men;  nor do they, as some do, champion a doctrine of human origin. Yet while they dwell in both Greek and non-Greek cities, as each one’s lot was cast, and conform to the customs of the country in dress, food, and mode of life in general, the whole tenor of their way of living stamps it as worthy of admiration and admittedly extraordinary.  They reside in their respective countries, but only as aliens. They take part in everything as citizens and put up with everything as foreigners. Every foreign land is their home, and every home a foreign land.  They marry like all others and beget children; but they do not expose their offspring.  Their (food) they spread for all, but not their bed. They find themselves in the flesh, but do not live according to the flesh. They spend their days on earth, but hold citizenship in heaven.  They obey the established laws, but in their private lives they rise above the laws. They love all men, but are persecuted by all. They are unknown,  yet are condemned; they are put to death, but it is life that they receive.  They are poor, and enrich many;  destitute of everything, they abound in everything.  They are dishonored, and in their dishonor find their glory. They are calumniated, and are vindicated.  They are reviled, and they bless;  they are insulted and render honor.  Doing good, they are penalized as evildoers; when penalized, they rejoice because they are quickened into life.

O King of glory, Lord of hosts, uplifted in trumph far above all heavens, leave us not without consolation but send us the Spirit of truth whom You promised from the Father;  for You live and reign with Him and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

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