Sunday, November 3, 2013

Our Inheritance

In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God's own people, to the praise of his glory.

I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. Ephesians 1:11-23

The parish of St. Peter's Sitka was founded by the first bishop of Alaska and was his home and see during his episcopate. I have been curious about him and recently looked up an article about him in the New York Times archives. The writer describes him as a man of average height and slight build. His consecration in NY was a three hour affair and the the author noted with surprise that no one left the church the whole time. " Mr. Rowe is a man of great personal endurance. He has more gut to the square inch than muscle. His nature overflows with sympathy for everything that is oppressed and helpless, and in his coal black eyes shine the fires of repressed enthusiasm and tireless zeal. How astounding to have inherited, for a time, this place of such a remarkable bishop.

As we celebrate All Saint's Sunday and remember in prayer all those who have died, it is always helpful for me to look back at the lives and ministries of others. The challenges they faced were incredible, and they sacrificed comfort and safety for the mission of God. They sacrificed so that we could thrive today, working for the inheritance of those who come after us. They did their best with the tools and skills they had in their time and we are asked to use the gifts we have for the church today. We might not feel like we live up to the standards of some of the saints of the past, but God invites us to serve I this context, in this time and in this place.

Today I ask God to give me the strength to serve and the courage to offer what I have. May we trust that God will supply the love, compassion, enthusiasm and zeal that we need to be faithful. And may we honor the saints in glory by working with joy today.

The Collect

Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

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