Readings – Daniel 7:1-3,15-18; Psalm 149; Ephesians 1:11-23; Luke 6:20-31
The composer of Psalm 149 began with:
Sing to the Lord God a new song; sing his praises… let the children of Zion be joyful… …praise him with timbrel and harp… Let the faithful rejoice…
A new song yet the composer reverted back to the old song
…a two-edged sword in their hand; To wreak vengeance… …punishment on the peoples; To bind their kings… To inflict on them the judgement…
The composer started with a new song, and then quickly slid into the same old song.
The prophet Daniel proclaimed through a vision a new day to come. While there would be beasts about seeking to disrupt and destroy, “the holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom for ever – forever and ever”.
It is St. Paul in his letter to the congregation in Ephesus who declared the new song, the new day, had finally arrived.
St. Paul was speaking of baptism when we say-
You are sealed by the Holy Spirit in baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever. (B.C.P., p, 308)
We, you and I, have received “his glorious inheritance among the saints”.
We, you and I, have already received the most precious and glorious inheritance we will ever receive at our baptism. For most of us, that was many years ago.
This brings to mind verse 3 of a familiar hymn
How silently, how silently, the wonderous gift is given! So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven. No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin, the dark night wakes, the glory breaks, and Christmas comes once more. Hymn 78
At baptism “You are sealed by the Holy Spirit… and marked as Christ’s own forever. “
So, our lifelong ministry is to live fully into our inheritance, so quietly given and so quietly received, Holy Water and Holy Oil, sprinkled and anointed.
In our reading from the Gospel according to St. Luke, we heard Jesus’ description of that inheritance fully lived. Let us hear it again in the rendition of Eugene Peterson’s The Message.
You’re blessed when you’ve lost it all. God’s kingdom is there for the finding. You’re blessed when you are ravenously hungry. Then you’re ready for the Messianic meal. You’re blessed when the tears flow freely. Joy comes with the morning. Count yourself blessed every time some on cuts you down or throws you out, every time someone smears or blackens your name to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and that that person is uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens – skip like a lamb, if you like!—for even though they don’t like it I do…and all heaven applauds. And you know you are in good company; my preachers and witnesses have always been treated like this. But trouble is ahead if you think you have made it What you have is all you’ll ever get. And it’s trouble ahead if you’re satisfied with yourself. Your self will not satisfy you for long. And it’s trouble ahead if you think life’s all fun and games. There’s suffering to be met, and you’re going to meet it. There’s trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them. Popularity contests are not truth contests – look how many scoundrel preachers were approved by your ancestors! Your task is to be true, not popular. To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you are hard time, respond with the supple moves of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more payback. Live generously.
The old song is payback. The new song is love your enemies; live generously.
This is what the saints have done; this is what the saints are doing now, and this is what the saints will do for all the tomorrows to come.
Some of us have already faced horrible beasts in our lifetime; some will face them in the future. Yet “the holy ones of the Most High”, we, the current day saints of God, will pass on the “glorious inheritance: given to us at our baptism to those who follow.
“God imparts to human hearts the blessings of … heaven.”
“Love your enemies.”