Work for God (Jeremiah 32,1-25; 2 Corinthians 5, 20-7,1) Matins, Book of Common Prayer Lectionary, Wednesday after tenth Sunday after Trinity
‘...The Great, the Mighty God, the Lord of hosts, is his name, great in counsel, and mighty in work; for thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways and according to the fruit of his doings: which hast set signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, even onto this day, and in Israel, and among other men; and hast made thee a name, as at this day; and hast brought forth thy people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs, and with wonders, and with a strong hand.’
Praising God revitalises the soul and re-energises (re-orients) our Christian culture. We also understand from the words of prophet Jeremiah that the stake is real. If we cease to worship God and serving him in history, captivity ‘will surround us’. The temples of alien (cruel) gods will be erected and will pose a new oppressive power. ‘Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall take it.’
Saint Paul’s is a beautiful metaphor: ‘we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.’ What lies beyond this image is the toiling of the new church, emerging from the spiritual captivity of the age. The self-portrait of these laborious first Christians is so fresh in Paul’s account. They work in ‘afflictions, in necessities, in distress, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults… by pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, by the word of truth, by the power of God… as unknown, and well known, as dying, and behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things. O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heat is enlarged.’
This work of resurfacing unto God’s life giving grace is our work, right now. The birth of a renewed church, via our conversion, is taking place, right now. We are called to reflect on our task of separating ourselves from the idols of the age and nurturing our distinct Christian identity. This is a laborious office, a work of God, day by day – with the ethics of work and prayer of the early Benedictine communities. The church, our present and future joy, is born from this tireless toiling: discerning between our true self and captivity.
‘…And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? Ans what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.’
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..