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08.16.09 Ephesians 5:8-20 Spirituality is Wisdom Sermon Start

by on August 10, 2009

We continue in Ephesians with a return to the theme of “once you were/but now you are.” Our passage opens with the contrast between darkness and light. Many Christians assume that to be children of light means to flee darkness, to have nothing to do with it, or in the language of this passage, to not even mention what the shameful do in the dark. That’s not what Jesus did, it’s not what God did in Christ, it’s not what our experience of the Holy Spirit is today. God delights in entering dark places—the world as creator, religious and political abuses in Jerusalem, and our own hearts and minds—and illuminating them. The thrust of this passage really is the appeal to “wake up, rise from the dead, and Christ’s light will shine on you.” If anyone is to experience the light, it has to come to them, where they are asleep, where they are dead. And if we are going to be the light of the world, as Christ said we were, then we have to go into the dark places of the world and bring the light.

Really this is as easy as being in the same place as darkness, but for a different reason. When, in the dark place, people live foolishly, i.e., according to the wisdom of the world, we live according to the wisdom of God. When, in the dark place, people are drunk with wine, i.e., behavior that gives the appearance of escape, we are filled with the Spirit of God, living both in this world but not ultimately of this world.

We aren’t supposed to flee the world. We are to live in it, bear witness to the light in it, and I believe we can do this when we approach life with an attitude of gratefulness, which is why this passage ends by enjoining us to thanksgiving. It makes me think of the eucharist, where in the material of the world, in the darkness of death, we find the light of resurrection bursting forth in the presence of Christ.

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