Dear reader, you may have noticed an editorial error this week: we have been posting for Year Two readings by mistake. (Perhaps we are eager for the start of Advent!) We apologize. We will re-post Archbishop Makgoba’s devotionals next year at this time. In the meantime, please enjoy some of our favorite Proper 29, Year One devotionals from years past.

By Elizabeth Baumann

A Reading from 1 Peter 2:11-25 

Beloved, I urge you as aliens and exiles to abstain from the desires of the flesh that wage war against the soul. 12 Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that, though they malign you as evildoers, they may see your honorable deeds and glorify God when he comes to judge.

13 For the Lord’s sake accept the authority of every human institution, whether of the emperor as supreme, 14 or of governors, as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing right you should silence the ignorance of the foolish. 16 As servants of God, live as free people, yet do not use your freedom as a pretext for evil. 17 Honor everyone. Love the family of believers. Fear God. Honor the emperor. 18 Slaves, accept the authority of your masters with all deference, not only those who are kind and gentle but also those who are harsh. 19 For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. 20 If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps. 22 “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” 23 When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

Meditation

What strikes me about today’s reading from 1 Peter isn’t anything explicitly in the text, but rather the implied assumption that this letter is addressed to a community. It’s all about submission to authority and acceptance of even unjust suffering for our way is the way of the cross. It’s an incredibly difficult way, so it’s no wonder the New Testament is replete with “one anothers” — that we are to love one another, encourage one another, reprove one another, etc. This calling is just too hard for any of us to do alone.

Yet, it seems to me, we live in a crisis of community, most of us faltering for its lack. The reasons for that are myriad and complicated and probably somewhat different from person to person and place to place.  The solutions, likewise, must be tailored. I don’t have answers to give here.

But as Grace Hartigan put it, “I cannot expect even my own art to provide all of the answers, only to hope it keeps asking the right questions.” What are the right questions?

For starters: relationships require nurture, and the nurture requires time; so how can we be less busy and make time for each other? Can you arrange your schedule so that a few hours a week can be devoted to meeting a friend for coffee? Another question: What would this community Peter is writing to look like in today’s world? Does technological contact count, and how much? Finally, it’s Thanksgiving Day, and most of us will be sitting down with our families: how can our families become more intentional communities? I’m not as certain about charity, but I’m pretty convinced community begins at home.

Elizabeth Baumann is a seminary graduate, a priest’s wife, and the mother of two small daughters. A transplant from the West Coast, she now lives in “the middle of nowhere” in the Midwest with too many cats.

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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

The Diocese of Idah (Church of Nigeria)
Church of the Good Shepherd, Augusta, Ga.