Today's Lectionary Text
1 Peter 3:8-13
Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:
Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:
Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.
And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?
The beginning of this year was so exciting to many as we anticipated the best throughout the year. No one knew the various packages we would each receive along the 2020 lane. We began new adventures and different experiences have befallen us. The takeaway for 2020 is COVID -19 pandemic and how it has impacted the whole globe. Even children now know that there is Coronavirus and that face masks have become a commonplace part of our wardrobe. Even the phrase social distancing may be added to the dictionary with a defined new meaning highlighting the modified use personal space.
One take away from the above might be using the knowledge gained from the COVID-19 experiences to enhance our hygiene practices we might have taken for granted: washing hands regularly, applying personal space differently and keeping our immunity systems protected by good dietary habits. Indeed, we expectantly await this coming new year to usher relief, hope and we are leaning on our faith that the newly implemented vaccine programs will support remediation from this pandemic. But we need some intakes for the new year even though we wrap this year with this strong, vibrant faith. What does this mean to our Christian walk?
Experience remains the best teacher in any life circumstance. These experiences might be positive or negative. It is often said failure to learn from our experiences is a guarantee to failure. Within the devotional scripture, Apostle Peter has something to say about intakes for the brand-new year ahead of us. He reminds us that we Christians are different. We have something strong to depend on so much so that even COVID-19 cannot extinguish the flame of hope and faith and our dependence on our lord and savior, we have a powerful Got on our side. Many times, we have been pressed and squeezed from the head to the feet and from the right and left sides of our bodies but as soon as we remember who out God is, we feel relaxed and relieved. The Bible says: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:33) So, Peter gives us the intakes for the journey ahead.
He lists five elements that should characterize any group of believers, which help us to resemble our Lord Jesus Christ. Each element has its uniqueness and blends with the rest. Peter wants us to intake the spirit of one mind or oneness as we pursue the goals of making disciples of all nations and winning souls for Jesus Christ. No matter what is happening in our lives, we are reminded to practice having the mind of Jesus Christ. Our purpose has to be ingrained with the mind of Christ, who fulfilled his assigned purpose of bringing humanity back to God.
Peter encourages us to intake and practice compassion, thus being responsive to others. We are indeed each other’s keeper. I teared up one day while watching the news as the COVID-19 numbers kept on escalating in our nation. My sympathy was deepened as I thought about families who have lost their loved ones during this devastating pandemic. It is saddening and disheartening to watch people dying like flies every day. This calls for empathy, to be in somebody grieving’s shoes. As believers, we feel for others who are walking on the terrain of grief through the coronavirus. The intake here is to pray for our fellow man, to mourn for those who mourn, to comfort the grieving, to pray for healing for those inflicted by disease, to offer help for those wo need help as much as we can. To indeed have care and compassion for the least of these.
He inserts within our hearts love which always glues us together. Thus, seeing and treating each other as brothers and sisters loved so dearly by our God. Love covers a multitude of all sins. In this season of advent as we await the birth of Christ through God’s demonstration of his love to us, we are reminded of the intake of giving love unconditionally to our neighbor, to engage in some form of sacrificial and not obligatory giving. The world will know we are Christians by our love. Therefore, we intake the love for God, self, and neighbor.
As we practice love, we add gentleness in our daily living by being consequently and affectionately sensitive and very caring for others. We are living in a decade where we must exercise tenderness to the less privileged, orphans, and all people around us. Humility does it all within our Christian walk. We learn this from the epistle writer Peter. So here the once rash, argumentative domineering, and arrogant Peter bore witness to a life of humility. This is our intake too for the journey that lies ahead of us.
Humility enables believers to resemble Jesus, who humbled himself to the point of death on a cross for all sinners. God’s eyes are on us in our Christian living: “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil” Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?” (I Peter 3:12-13). These last verses compel us to practice godly lives for our God is holy. Therefore, let us intake the five elements into the new year. God is always on our side. I wish you all a prosperous New Year 2021.
-Rev. Ever Mudambanuki
United Church of Bennington and Solomon Yoked Parish
Prayer for Reflection
O God we have gone through much suffering this year and pray for your comfort, healing, and release of all afflictions. Help us to enter into the new year wrapped with love, compassion, humility, sympathy, and like -mindedness. The Holy Spirit helps us to practice these divine virtues constantly in our daily walk with you. Amen
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