Sunday, August 14, 2016

And Finally


Scripture
 
2Cor. 13:11   Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.  12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you.
2Cor. 13:13   The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

Observation

Paul brings this epistle to a close with a prayer and an admonition. There is to be unity in the church and his appeal has been for the community of faith to be intentional about reconciliation. Things are to be put in order as believers reach out to one another in holy love, taking the time to come to agreement. Jesus Christ came as the prince of peace and so as God’s children continue to grow and reflect Christ, his peace will be revealed and the peace and love of God will surround those who are called Christian.

Judas greeted Jesus with a kiss of betrayal but those who are reflecting Christ will greet one another with a holy kiss of God’s love and peace. It’s hard to greet someone in love when you are angry with them and so the holy kiss becomes a visible expression of the love and peace of God within the community. The holy ones, those living in the holiness of Christ send their greetings with an anticipated hope of the participation of the Corinthians in that holiness as well.

The closing statement  of the prayer is Trinitarian expressing the grace of Jesus, the love of God and the fellowship which can be enjoyed because of the Holy Spirit. It is an invitation into participation in God’s very nature which becomes revealed through grace, love and communion.

Application

Somehow I think I hear a big sigh from Paul as he comes to the end of this epistle. He takes a deep breath and then begins this prayer which ties together the pieces of everything he has been trying to say to the Corinthians. And finally — his desire is that they become God’s holy people.

We can take time talking about all kinds of issues and problems but ultimately, we are being called to be holy, just as God is holy. And finally — Paul prays for the very nature of God to be revealed in God’s people.

And finally — farewell dear friends, but make sure you “put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace.” He matches this to the final statement of his prayer referring to the grace, love and communion to be found in the Triune God. Sandwiched in the middle are all the saints who greet the Corinthians. All of those who are holy send their greetings because they are already participating in the grace, love and communion of our holy God.

And finally — dear brothers and sisters, God wants us to stop bickering about the little things that create division and distractions and focus on what is really important.

And finally — we live in the presence of the God of love and peace. When we spend time in God’s holy presence we are consumed by the nature of love and peace. God’s nature becomes our nature and our response to the things around us changes dramatically. No longer do we have to fight back to win from our perspective, but we are willing to allow the God of peace to bring reconciliation.

The Christian community often lives far too divided. It’s easy for us to point our fingers at the Corinthians when we fail to see what may be happening in our own communities. From the comfort of our pews we aren’t sure how to reach out to those who may be from another economic status, or ethnic background. The God of love and peace transforms our hearts to the point that we can no longer be the same. We reach out to our sister or brother whom we may have difficulty understanding — but we greet them with a holy kiss of God’s love and acceptance. Physically touching and breaking down barriers, we reach out, and in doing so we step into the communion of the saints.

And finally — the difference in our lives is dramatic. No longer does the world see the bickering members of the church, but they see the love, grace and fellowship of God at work, bringing a healing balm to the pain of this world.

Prayer
 
Lord, thank you for Paul’s prayer which has been preserved as a reminder to us today. Please, help me to live into your Trinitarian presence and fellowship.  Amen.

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