Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Lectionary Turns a Blind Eye to the Morality in Ephesians 5

This Sunday's Epistle reading, Ephesians 5:8-14,  was passed over by our preacher today (Bishop Andrew Waldo), and I suspect it got the short shrift from many a pulpit throughout the Church as folks tend to get a bit of tunnel vision when faced with preparing a homily based on the story of Jesus healing the blind man from the rather lengthy Gospel selection for today,  John 9:1-41.

One of the reasons for our blindness to the letter to the Ephesians is that the Sunday church crowd is presented with a partial picture of Paul's message. It is what was unseen that I found myself reviewing today.

Here is the text that was read today,
"For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light— for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
‘Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’" 
Ephesians 5:8-14
Expose "the unfruitful works of darkness"... hmmm.

How can we know what those might be? Maybe we should read what precedes and what follows this fragment of Ephesians.
"But fornication and impurity of any kind, or greed, must not even be mentioned among you, as is proper among saints. Entirely out of place is obscene, silly, and vulgar talk; but instead, let there be thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure person, or one who is greedy (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God." "Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be associated with them." (verses 3-7)
"Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit," (verses 15-18)
Why are we blind to these evil things? It can't just be that the modern church doesn't like to talk about them. Is it that we have been led to believe that we have already been brought into the light, and those shameful things are no longer present? Isn't the denial of sin just another form of blindness?

One characteristic of the new eyes which our Lord has blessed us with is that we are able to see beyond the limitations of our lectionary. We are now keen to see that there is more to the story than the picture that gets painted each Sunday morning by the artists in charge of the church service.  

Open the Bible today, and let the light pour in.


  1. Pewster,
    This is the Epistle from the RCL for Lent 4. The BCP lectionary that we use includes verses 1-7. 1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

    3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.[a] 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them."

  2. Have the ACNA churches agreed to a common lectionary or is it left to the individual church?

  3. Pewster,
    The ACNA prayer book is a work in progress. They do not as yet have a common lectionary. They have a wonderful opportunity to go back to the 1928 lectionary.