Monday, October 31st. Ephesians 2:1-9

You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else.

 

But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ —by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God — not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. Ephesians 2:1-9

 

I used to preach in a prison on Saturday nights, a few times a year.  You might think that it was a very different “crowd” than a normal Lutheran Sunday morning but it really wasn’t.  If anything, the lines were simply more apparent.

 

The front rows in the prison chapel were filled with the “prayer choir” types.  They were quick to hoot and holler for Jesus.  Lots of “amen” and “preach it” and “there you go”.  These were the Christian guys who hung out together, unashamed to be identified as Christian. They were fun. But it always bothered me, how quickly they took the front seats with “their own” instead of filling up the back rows first.

 

The back rows is where the guys who came to chapel only to “do business” sat.  They went to chapel to get out of their cells.  Church was a place to make deals, to exchange contraband, to get their edge.  I took great comfort when I was told that mostly the guys in the back row utterly ignored what was happening in front – except when I was there preaching.  Then they paid attention.  Sometimes you could hear a pin drop in that chapel. I always took that to mean that maybe the Holy Spirit was doing a little business in back too.

 

And then there was everybody else in the middle.  The great mysterious “what is going on in their lives?” middle. The ones in the middle were those who most reminded me of the Lutheran congregation I would speak to the following morning.  The ones who were quiet but almost always there.  The ones I couldn’t read.

 

The first time I preached at that prison, I stood before the guys and said, “It’s nice to be in a room where I know for sure that I’m not the only one who has done something wrong in my life.”  It was a nice line, got a big laugh.  But it went far deeper for me.

 

For the true glory of God is seen in Jesus dying on a cross for sinners.  The true mystery of faith is how the Holy Spirit works faith, when and where it pleases, in the lives of broken and breaking people.  That is, in the saint/sinner that we all are.

 

And while some of our sin is more publicly apparent, whether we were “born into a Christian family and raised in the faith” or whether the good news of God’s love finally sunk in sometime later in life and transformed us on the spot – at the end of the day we are all beggars before the throne of God’s grace.  By grace we have been saved through faith.

 

Now what will we do with that faith today?

 

Let us pray:  Dear Lord, worship yesterday was wonderful.  It was good to be with your people, singing the songs of our heritage, receiving you in bread and wine.  I hope you enjoyed it too for we were singing to your glory.  Now today we begin a new week.  May we do so as new people, newly claimed and shaped and useful for good works in the world. May we love as you have loved us.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

One Response to “Monday, October 31st. Ephesians 2:1-9”

  1. Randy Nelson Says:

    Inspiring words. I am guilty of just leaving my cell, or daily life, each Sunday for ‘words’. Intense spiritual feelings for me are just for Sunday mornings. The joy given by Jesus seems more real when serving others & to God be the glory.

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