Today’s Readings for the Daily Office
Psalm 140, 142 (Morning)
Psalm 141, 143:1-11(12) (Evening)
1 Pet. 3:13-4:6
A Lived, Eternal Faith
I don’t always feel this way, but the passage from Peter is just what I needed to hear this morning. One of the tensions in the Bible is between the immanent and the transcendent. Between a God high and lifted up and a God living amongst us. Jesus was present with the disciples but they often misunderstood him. Jesus was present with them but also, importantly, absent. And of course, no matter how great any one of us might come to understand God, as a matter of faith we understand that God is ultimately beyond our understanding. And yet for all that transcendence our faith is very fleshy. No coherent account of Jesus can fail to appreciate how deeply he cared for the poor—and how he showed that love and care in specific, concrete ways.
This year I have preached any number of times, often in general (transcendent) terms, of God’s care for those on the margins. But last night (November 30th) thinking about those sermons something began to ring false. I was watching the news about the progress of the tax bill, which as of today might reach the Senate floor and thus looks closer than ever to passing. In a moment a strong belief formed in me that if I stood by and did nothing, I couldn’t preach again on the necessity for justice and mercy towards the poor. In a way I wish that Jesus’ commands could always remain abstract and general. That way we might never fear running afoul of them. But after listening to the news and reading the analysis about this bill, I am convicted that God’s justice is not in it.
So this morning I’m headed to the Capital, hopefully to protest as close as I can to the Senate floor. Peter wrote to the church with these words,
“Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence.”
Wherever you are today, however the gospel has called to you, this reading reminds us to be prepared to defend those holy and sacred convictions. But remember always act with gentleness and reverence.
Written by Joshua Daniel
Joshua is serving as St. Paul’s seminarian at Virginia Theological Seminary, where he (God willing) is in his final year of graduate school. Before moving to seminary with his family he worked as the chaplain at St. Martin’s University Center and in the Philosophy Department at the University of Arkansas, where he received his Ph.D. In Virginia, his wife, Jenna, has worked part time running her essential oil business, and full time meeting and anticipating the spiritual, physical, and emotional needs and well being of the many creatures living with her: Ruby (now aged 3), Jude (now aged 7 and in the 2nd grade), and her often occupied—and in much need of love and grace—husband.