Today's lectionary reading: Psalm 77; Job 4:1-21; Ephesians 2:1-10
Passage selected for reflection: Ephesians 2:1-10 (ESV, emphasis added)
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the children of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of humankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in 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 coming ages 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 a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
There have been times in the past year that I have felt the weight of what Paul calls “the prince of power of the air.” The oppression of the way this world works and the powers at play within our society. I’ve felt the weight of sin heavy on my heart when I watch the news and my social media feed. The hostility and blatant disrespect for those who disagree with us mingled together with the hate and superiority of those tucked safely within the majority. On the softer, though still problematic side, I see the ignorance of people of privilege who have spent their lives walking away from these difficult conversations because it made them uneasy. I lament with my whole body the pain caused to our brothers and sisters who feel powerless or like their dignity is being stripped away from them on a daily basis. I cry out from the past trauma being continuously triggered by the news cycle. Everyday it feels like a battle.
And then I remember the transition in Paul’s writing - But God. But God, being rich in mercy and with the great love in which God loves us. God sent Jesus to the earth to show us the way. God gifted us with the Holy Spirit to guide us, comfort us, weep with us. I remember that our God is more powerful than the evil forces at work around us. Our God is more loving than we can handle, more gracious than we can even imagine and this same God has created each of us in unique ways. Each with a story that we embody for the sake of the Gospel - the good news that this grace and mercy is available to all people.
We are God’s masterpiece, created to do the good works laid out before us by God. We were created on purpose and for a purpose. Our purpose is to live into the Kingdom of God that Jesus ushered in. The upside down Kingdom that is radically inclusive, that does not tolerate hate, and is diverse by design. We are created to further that Kingdom, each of us in our own circles of influence.
The pieces that make up our identities are not a mystery to God because God created them. God was with us in the broken parts that left scars on our hearts and our bodies. God was there, stitching us together and restoring us just as God promised, giving us the Holy Spirit like a balm for our souls. Nothing surprises God about who we are, and when we live into that identity as Masterpieces of God, no power on earth can stop us. We are the children of God. We sit with Christ because of God’s loving kindness for each of us. May we walk into this day remembering the power of the Spirit within us.
I encourage you to remember your identity today. Write it on your mirror, put it on your phone background, place sticky notes all around your home to remind you when you need it. I also encourage you to spread that love to a sister who needs to hear it- send a message, drop a comment or show up with coffee or chocolate to remind them they are loved by this incredible God.
Try a breath prayer: Get in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and quiet your mind. Focus on your breathing. As you breathe in, pray, “Creator God,” and as you breathe out, pray, “I am yours.”
About the Author
Alicia is a Colorado native who found her heart home in Minnesota. She’s passionate about helping young people see God at work in their lives and in the world around them. She spends her days pastoring in the local church and teaching 7th grade Bible in the Twin Cities. You can find her at aliciavela.com or on social media as @aliciavelaanderson