Practice Resurrection (1)

One starlit evening in the Highland hills of Scotland, as a lad of fourteen, John McKay a future president of Princeton Seminary, read through the letter to the Ephesians and in his words experienced a ‘boyish rapture and I made a passionate protestation to Jesus Christ among the rocks in the starlight….I saw a new world…everything was new…I had a new outlook, new experiences, new attitudes to other people.  I loved God.  Jesus Christ became the center of everything…I was really alive.’

McKay never lost his enthusiasm for Ephesians.  “What we have here,” he would later write, “is truth that sings, doctrine set to music….It is the most contemporary book in the Bible since it promises community in a world of disunity, reconciliation in place of alienation, and peace instead of war.”  [cited by John Stott in God’s New Society].

For many years I mostly avoided Ephesians in favour of more ‘practical Anabaptist texts’ like the Sermon on the Mount and James.  But some twenty years ago my attitude changed when I heard a series of weekend lectures by Tom Yoder-Neufeld on Ephesians.  After his lectures I bought his commentary and began a slow study through the book – and came to love it for its grand vision of Christ, the church, and the Christian life.  My first attempt at teaching it was to the long-suffering seniors study at Fiske & Herschel.  I’m certain I learned much more than they did but as we studied together I saw its power to shape congregational life for service to God and the world.

This week we begin a worship series based on this short letter.  Included in worship will be some reader’s theatre as well as reflections on the text in music and word.  We invite you to read through the letter  (several times over the next two months) and let its words and images soak into your hearts and minds.  And feel free to use different translations to enhance your understanding.

Andrew Dyck, a professor of practical theology at CMU has memorized the book of Ephesians (see it here -  I can’t make that claim but each week I want to memorize/internalize some of the verses that stand out for me.  Feel free to join me.  This week - Ephesians 1.3-4.

        Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.