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07.26.09 Ephesians 3:14-21 The Power of God’s Love Sermon Start

by on July 21, 2009

This week’s sermon is based on Ephesians 3:14-21, a kind of doxological punctuation mark; the author breaks into prayer and praise in the middle of the regular flow of the letter. This fact alone suggests something very important: it’s always appropriate to pause in whatever context to pray and to praise God.

The subject of this prayer also has something to teach us. Just like with the Lord’s Prayer, this text can guide our own prayers. It teaches us to pray for the fullness of God’s revelation as we become increasingly filled with Christ. The reason Christ calls his followers to self-denial, or in Paul’s imagery, voluntary crucifixion, is so that there will be less ego in our lives and more space for the Spirit of God.

In an image recurring throughout scripture, Ephesians depicts the nature of God filling human nature to overflowing. This was made obvious to us in Christ, whose human nature was infused with divinity, even to the point of overcoming death—that inescapable human reality. As God’s Spirit fills us individually, it will overflow into our church community, and as our church community is filled with God’s Spirit, it will overflow into our other communities (work, school, neighborhoods, etc.).

This prayer illustrates well our congregation’s new mission statement: We follow Christ, relying on the Spirit’s guidance and worshiping God with our lives by serving our neighbors, cultivating community, and inviting others to join the exploration of faith.

  1. I find it amazing that no matter how the Spirit works [loudly, softly, through music, through a friend, overtly, discretely] the Spirit leads us back to prayer and praise. Just as the song states, every time I feel the Spirit moving in my heart I will pray! Maybe that’s what happened to Paul. He was writing the letter and got struck by the Spirit and couldn’t contain it within himself, the Spirit overflowed into prayer and praise. How wonderful is it when we can say the same of a church!!

  2. tomtrinidad permalink

    Tonight I’m impresed with a dualism suggested in the text, not manichaeism, but a by sight/by faith dualism. This passage from Ephesians pits what is unseen–the inner person, the power of God, the combined potentency of the assembly–against what is seen or experienced individually: personal weakness, alienation.

    It confirms my conviction that our true identity, or vocation, is to be found in a community, and more specifically, a spiritual community (in this case, a trinitarian spiritual community), and more specifically still, in service to and in a spiritual community.

    Some other thoughts: the attitude or orientation of this passage is present and future; who we are, who we’re called to be, is purposeful; the passage also urges achievement of some sort, not just personal satisfaction.

    God’s love bequeaths identity discovered in service, in community, towards a purpose. Presenting these truths in concrete ways is going to be a challenge!

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