Josh shares from Ephesians 1 and reminds us of the blessings we have seen as a church family over a challenging year like 2020. Like the church in Ephesus, we have many things to be thankful for, and we recognize that all blessings flow from God to us, and from us to others, and then those others praise God for the blessings they've received. And that cycle of blessing and praise continues. We heard from many in the RCC family today testifying of the blessings they've received. Ephesians 1:3-14.
Josh shared three quotes today:
1) Allen Hilton: "Christians in Ephesus may have thought their decision was more a shift in religious focus -- no big deal. Just changed habit of worship. Then his letter, read after a meal, and they discovered that their small steps into a new community had been planned by God before the beginning of time. That the steps amounted to God's adoption of them through Christ. That they were part of a plan to bring all separated fragments of creation together in unity through Christ and that this would all end in a glorious inheritance."
2) Thomas Steagald: "We are those chosen for praise to God, destined for worship and appointed unto doxology. If we cannot yet see all that will be we can already sing it. We sing of what will surely come by the grace of God. In doing so, we prove that we are marked by the seal of the Holy Spirit. The spirit serves as a kind of retainer, or sustainer, until the fullness of time. In the day to come, all will sing and give thanks to God; until then, we have received the lavish blessings and redemption sung on behalf of the rest. If the origin of the message of Christmas is that the Word becomes flesh and dwells among us, the culmination of the season is that our flesh becomes the praise of God who makes us all one."
3) James McTyre: "God has set in motion an irresistible cycle of gifts and thanks, of which we are destined to be a part of, but certainly not the end. Rather than being entitled by God's spirit of adoption, we are obligated by its purposes. The mark of 'the seal of the promised Holy Spirit' is not that we believe and then stop, satisfied of our own salvation. The mark of the Holy Spirit is seen when we continue to place this imprint of love upon our neighbors, our friends, and even our enemies. By the mystery of God's will, they too will continue the cycle of gift and thanksgiving. What plans do we have, what plans do our churches have in the coming year to live into the mystery of God's will? How do we propose to continue to write, say, and give thanks? How will we continue to share our spiritual, physical, and financial gifts? Will we live another year as people with possessions, or will we live as people with gifts? Will we cautiously parcel out our gifts, or will we heap them lavishly, as God has given them to us? Mercifully, even if we missed the opportunities of Christmas, there are always second Sundays, second chances to begin anew. Our lives can be grateful, again."