Lectionary Commentaries for July 26, 2009
Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

from WorkingPreacher.org


Commentary on John 6:1-21

Brian Peterson

The feeding of the multitude is the only miracle story told in all four Gospels.

Perhaps this story has such a secure place in the memory of the church because of the Eucharistic themes which it carries. This is especially true in John where Jesus’ action over the bread is described with the verb eucharisteo, “give thanks,” rather than the Synoptic Gospels’ “blessing” (John 6:11, 23).

While each Gospel includes this story, each also strikes distinctive notes in the telling. Only John tells us that this event takes place near the festival of Passover (John 6:4). What may seem like an insignificant detail in fact is at the heart of what the entire chapter claims about Jesus.

At the end of chapter 5, Jesus complained that his opponents did not understand or believe what Moses had written (John 5:39-47). We then are ushered immediately into a scene that not only takes place at Passover, one of the great events associated with Moses, but into a text that overflows with echoes of the Passover event. Some examples include:

  • At the beginning of chapter 6, events of supernatural feeding and of salvation from the sea are joined together, just as the crossing of the sea and the manna in the wilderness were part of the story of Moses.
  • There is “testing” here (John 6:6), as there was in Exodus 16:4.
  • Jesus commands that the pieces be gathered up so that nothing is wasted, just as Moses commanded in Exodus 16:19.
  • Jesus is said to go up “to the mountain” (notice that it is not simply “a” mountain in verse 3). In fact, the text strangely says that after the feeding, Jesus (again?) withdrew “to the mountain” (verse 15). Perhaps this repeated mention of “the mountain” (another piece unique to John’s account) is intended to recall that other mountain in Israel’s story, where Moses met God.
  • The people will grumble (verse 41), just as Israel did in the wilderness (Exodus 16:2).

Thus, this text is an echo chamber of the Passover-Exodus story. If chapter 5 ended with complaints about a shallow, superficial understanding of Moses, then chapter 6 intends to show a deeper, fuller understanding of Moses and the Passover which is now revealed in Jesus.

Verse 14 indicates that the people have made the connections. Faced with this feeding miracle in the wilderness, they remember the promise that God will raise up a prophet like Moses, and they confess that Jesus is that prophet. But they fail to realize what this sign actually reveals. Instead of seeing in Jesus the very embodiment of God’s glory, love, and Word, they see a king, a political or military figure who might serve their desires.

We ought to remember the Passover was a festival of national liberation from a foreign oppressor. It is an act of revolution to want to make Jesus king. The crowds are certainly acting on their beliefs, and acting boldly; but they have missed the point of what has happened. They see Jesus’ gracious gift, but they want a glory for him that fits into their assumptions and serves their goals.

How often do we fail to see the depths of what God is doing, because we are focused only on what serves our immediate desires and needs? We fail to realize how graciously God is acting among us, for our sake and for the sake of the whole world. We only see partially and in distorted ways. We need the continuing word of Jesus, and the gift of himself, if we are to move more deeply into the glory of God. This is what the crowds need as well, though it will take all of chapter 6 to tell the story.

When the scene shifts from the feeding to the sea, the echoes of Passover continue, and it becomes even clearer that we are dealing not simply with miracles, but with a theophany.

Jesus’ response to the disciples’ fear is not simply “it is I,” but “I am” (NRSV footnote), the language of divine presence and revelation (Exodus 3:14; Isaiah 43:10, 25; 51:12). “Do not be afraid” is likewise the language of theophany (Genesis 15:1, Exodus 14:13). The feeding “miracle” is no mere miracle at all, but a theophany. In John’s vocabulary, it is a “sign,” a window into the glory of God present in this world through Jesus.

It is at the cross that we see the full depth of God’s glory, and the cross cannot be avoided. Notice that in this scene, the storm is not stilled. Rather, the glory of Jesus is revealed in and through the storm, just as it will be revealed through the cross. The storm is not removed, but the disciples are brought to salvation.

Like the crowds in John 6, we have been fed by God’s grace, fed with God’s mercy and care and steadfast love; and, like them, we often fail to see what God is doing among us. We look for the “wrong” kind of Jesus, one who will simply serve our programs, our desires, and our wishes.

Jesus will have no part of this, because God is up to something far greater. Jesus comes to us as God in the flesh, the one who reveals to us the Father and draws us into the Father’s love. Jesus comes across the fearful, lonely, empty, threatening times and places, and says “I am.” The “I am” has come to be with us and bring us to the goal God has intended.

This divine presence means we find ourselves called, as the disciples were, to feed the hungry. Of course this means we are to provide food and clean water to so many in this world who lack those things. And of course, our resources are not sufficient for such a task. But this cannot be an excuse to refuse what Jesus’ gives, and to bring it to others within the world. is no excuse not to receive from Jesus’ hand what he gives, and to go into the world with this gift.

All life and all good gifts come from God. Jesus comes to open our hearts and our hands to those around us. We can do that only because he also comes to open our eyes to his own presence as the grace-and-peace-filled “I” in the middle of the storm.

First Reading

Commentary on 2 Kings 4:42-44

Elna K. Solvang

Today’s reading is one of two back-to-back but separate stories of Elisha providing food for his disciples.

In the first account (verses 38-41), the context is one of great need — there is a famine in the land. Elisha instructs his servant to make stew for the company of prophets. Intending to gather herbs for the stew, the servant instead gathers a wild vine. The stew is inedible and those eating it declare “there is death in the pot!” Elisha adds flour to the stew, and the crisis is over. He then gives the instruction, “Serve the people and let them eat” (verse 41). In a time of scarcity, Elisha provides safe and tasty food.

The 2 Kings 4:38-41 passage echoes Elisha’s earlier salting of the waters of Jericho to make them “wholesome” (2 Kings 2:21) and Moses’ throwing a piece of wood into the water at Marah so that it changed from bitter to sweet (Exodus 15: 22-25).

It is not necessary to mention Elisha’s stew when preaching on verses 42-44, but examining the earlier passage (verses 38-41) helps draw attention to five dimensions of today’s pericope:

1) Today’s text begins not with scarcity but with generosity. It begins with the announcement that a man from Baal-shalishah comes bringing “food from the first fruits.” The text does not provide his name, only mentioning the village he comes from. There is no indication of any obligation on the part of this man to provide food to Elisha nor any mention that Elisha is in need of food.

The giver arrives without explanation. And it is the gifts that are described: “twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain.” This is a generous amount! It is not hard to picture, to smell, and to savor the taste of this pile of fresh bread and grain, or to recognize the labor that went into producing them.

2) A second surprising act of generosity then takes place: a sharing of these tasty foods. Elisha decides to share these first fruits with others and instructs “Give it to the people and let them eat.”

3) The picture suddenly changes and the generous pile of barley loaves and fresh ears of grain suddenly seems quite small when the servant in charge of administering Elisha’s instruction reveals there are a hundred people to feed. The servant’s question makes it clear that the eating is to include everyone. How can the giving be accomplished with equity?

4) There is nothing magical about the food that is being discussed in this passage, but there is something unusual. It is described as “food from the first fruits.” In the Israelite calendar, the first fruits marked the end of the harvest. The offering of “first fruits” acknowledged that the land and its produce belonged first of all to God. That reality was to serve as a reminder of God’s providing and as a curb against selfishness and greed.

The “food from the first fruits” is a holy offering (Leviticus 23:20). According to the festival instructions, it is to be delivered to the priest who is to offer it before the LORD. In 2 Kings 4, however, it is brought to the prophet Elisha who instructs that it be offered to the people. The people will dine on the LORD’s meal.

5) While the delivery of the first fruits to Elisha could be viewed as a protest against the religious establishment at Gilgal, nothing in the text makes that connection. Nor is there any objection to this redirection of the food offering (unlike the objection to Jesus plucking grain on the Sabbath in Mark 2:23-28). Instead, there is a surprising third act of generosity. Elisha repeats the instruction, “Give it to the people and let them eat,” adding, “for thus says the LORD, ‘They shall eat and have some left.'” And it was so. The source of this abundance is God. The LORD feeds the people with the LORD’s own food.

A miracle occurs in this story: a sack of grain and twenty barley loaves feed one hundred people, with food remaining. It is a miracle:

  • made possible by God’s abundant providing.
  • initiated by the generosity of an anonymous giver.
  • shared with others because of the recipient’s generosity.
  • in which all are included because of an administrator’s concern for equity.
  • through which the community shares in what is holy.

Interpreters tend to focus on these two verses in 2 Kings 4 as a demonstration of the prophet Elisha’s authority, or as an event surpassed by the bigger feeding miracles of Jesus (Matthew 14:13-21; 15:32-39; Mark 6:30-44; 8:1-10; Luke 9:10-17). However, the miracle did not start with Elisha, and it did not need to be bigger to be sufficient for that community.

The passage depicts the miracle of daily existence: human community and holy living are dependent upon the abundant providing of God, human generosity and willingness to share, and attention to equity.

A postscript: I write these words in the final week of March as the flood levels on the Red River in northwestern Minnesota begin to recede and losses are tallied up. Sandbag dikes still surround neighborhoods, and weary residents try to resume their regular routines and responsibilities. The loss and displacement in the Red River Valley are not on the scale of the 2004 Tsunami or Hurricane Katrina, but they are real. Real people are without homes, and whole communities have spent weeks living with uncertainty, disruption, fear and exhaustion.

The good news is that the River did not surpass the height or strength of the emergency dikes.

The miracle is in the generosity and the sharing: people from near and far teamed up in sandbagging, plugging, pumping, monitoring, organizing, feeding and comforting. Friends and strangers from across the country and around the globe witnessed to God’s abundance through their prayers and encouragement. The first fruits and service owed to God were given to the people of the Red River Valley. It was, indeed, a holy offering.

Alternate First Reading

Commentary on 2 Samuel 11:1-15

Richard W. Nysse

The preacher needs to plan carefully how to allocate the segments of the David and Bathsheba narrative over the next two weeks.

It is hard to imagine preaching on 2 Samuel 11:1-15 without moving to Nathan’s (and God’s!) confrontation in the next chapter. The consequences of David’s action extend to the death of Bathsheba’s son born from David’s adulterous act (cf. 2 Samuel 12:15b-23).

The deeds of David cannot be glossed over with a facile offer of grace such as “God can even use characters like this.” To do so would make light of the death of the child and all the subsequent turmoil in the family of David, including the rape of Tamar and the deaths of Amnon and Absalom. As 2 Samuel 12:10 states: “The sword shall never depart from your house.”

2 Samuel 11:1-15 can be an occasion to ponder public trust and distrust. Loyalty to political leaders has limits. Dissent is not coterminous with treason. Patriotism is not the same as obedience to God. Even leaders chosen “by the will of God” and understood to be the “gift of God” are not to receive unqualified obedience parallel to that owed to God.

David’s exploitation and manipulation of power — even God-given power — is a paradigm for the ages, our own included. In fact, David’s conduct can be a mirror in which to examine our own cultural conduct. For example we might ask to what extent the exercise of our national power reenacts David’s. Being a “God blessed” nation does not exempt us from sin, just like being chosen by God did not exempt David from betraying and sinning against others.

The suggested ending of this reading leaves no doubt about David’s intentions. If we only read through vs. 15, we do not know Joab’s reaction. Joab has not always conformed to David’s intentions, but here David leaves himself open to Joab. Joab can hardly be trusted given his murder of Abner and the subsequent trouble (PR problem!) he caused David. David orders Joab to execute a tactic that puts Uriah in a highly vulnerable position. The tactic is probably not so unconventional as to raise suspicion among the rest of the soldiers, but David’s closing words leave no doubt about intent: “So that he may be struck down and die.”

David orders Uriah’s execution. It’s murder. There is no other way to state it. The letter is explicit; there is no deniability left if anyone besides Joab reads the communiqué (which, of course, every reader of Scripture does).

Joab is a known murderer. In 2 Samuel 3, he kills Abner for his own private purposes — avenging Abner’s killing of his brother. This act was in defiance of David, who had just worked out a deal with Abner as he was building coalitions with the remnants of Saul’s kingship. David was angered, at least publicly, but he did not act against Joab. Now in 2 Samuel 11, David becomes like Joab. He becomes a murderer, and he does it through Joab.

It is speculation — the text does not mention it — but one wonders if David assumes that Joab owes him a favor. Having crossed David once, Joab perhaps cannot afford a second act of defiance no matter what his loyalty to his own troops might have been. The writer rarely states motives in explicit language. The biblical text subtly hints at critiques of David in the first ten chapters of 2 Samuel, while at the same time celebrating his rise as the will of God. If there are disapprovals, they are not overt. But the remorse at Abner’s death and the piety expressed while moving the Ark seem heightened to the edge of exaggeration. The reader is permitted to wonder if David is sorrowful and, at the same time, ceasing the moment to solidify his position. It would not be the only place in Scripture where human motives are mixed while the divine purposes are nevertheless carried out. God’s will can be done through humans without the human actors being absolved of accountability for their own motivations in the very same events. Compare the Joseph narrative and the Oracles against the Nations in prophetic books.

If readers have developed a bit of suspicion about David in the first ten chapters, then they are more prepared for David’s lechery in chapter eleven. David becomes a typical royal despot. The opening clause is the first clue: “In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle….” David has made war a routine.

In contrast, 2 Samuel 7 started, “The Lord had given him rest from all his enemies.” This is reiterated twice as a promise from God (2 Samuel 7:9, 11). We are a long way from that promise, as well as from the period of the Judges. In that time, the Spirit of God would come upon an Israelite who would then raise up a militia to deliver Israel. David’s rise could be read as an extended version of the Spirit of God selecting a leader, but the opening verse clearly marks that we have moved into a different era.

1 Samuel 8:11-17 had warned about the ways of kings: “He will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen…” Now in 2 Samuel 11, the apparatus of kingship is on full display. David even has foreign mercenaries (Uriah is termed a Hittite).

Further, Israel had been warned that kings “will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers (1 Samuel 8:13). David has already taken several wives and concubines (cf. 2 Samuel 5:13). Now he takes one more, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah. David takes a daughter without the cultural norm of consulting the father. She is also a wife which makes its adultery.

As a bridge toward David’s indictment in next week’s unit, one might mention the anticipation of the accusation in Joab’s report back to David. Joab knows that he might be the fall guy for what might be interpreted as a tactical mistake: “Why did you go so near the wall?” (2 Samuel 11:21). He tells the messenger also to report: “Your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead too.”

Checkmate! David will not be able to weasel out of this. “You are the man” (2 Samuel 12:7) will soon fall despite all the appearance of propriety in David’s waiting for Bathsheba to complete her period of lamentation. David will not be able to sweep this aside with a cynical observation that “the sword devours now one and now another” (2 Samuel 11:25). Is it that simple for the son who will die in the next chapter (cf. 2 Samuel 12:15b-23)?

In fact, David’s disingenuous comment may be yet another occasion to reflect on our own conduct. Do we mirror David’s attitude in our casual acceptance of human deaths as collateral damage in war? Are we as disturbed by the widows and orphans we have created in Iraq as we are apt to be in reading of the son’s death?


Commentary on Psalm 145:10-18

Nancy deClaissé-Walford

Psalm 145 is the last of a group of eight psalms at the end of Book Five of the Psalter that are ascribed, in their superscriptions, to David (Psalms 138-145).

It is an acrostic, in which in each verse of the psalm begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Acrostic poems were the works of highly skilled literary artists and functioned in ancient Israelite literature in a number of ways. Acrostics were most likely memory devices to aid in private and public — that is, individual and corporate — recitation. In addition, they literarily summarized all that could be said or needed to be said about a particular subject, summing it up from alif to tav, from A to Z.

Adele Berlin, in an article in a 1985 festschrift, comments on the structure of Psalm 145: “The poet praises God with everything from A to Z: his praise is all inclusive. More than that, the entire alphabet, the source of all words, is marshaled praise of God. One cannot actually use all of the words in a language, but by using the alphabet one uses all potential words.”1

The Babylonian Talmud tractate Berakot 4b states that Psalm 145, like the shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-5: “Hear, O Israel, the LORD is our God; the LORD alone. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.”), is to be recited three times a day and everyone who does so, “may be sure that he (or she) is a child of the world to come.”

Psalm 145 appears in the Jewish Prayer Book more than any other psalm in the Psalter. Also, the Dead Sea Psalm scroll 11QPsa contains a version of Psalm 145 in which the refrain, “Blessed is the LORD and blessed is his name forever and ever,” is included after each verse, indicating some sort of liturgical use.

All indications are the words of this psalm were and are a vital part of the faith of the Jewish people.

Within the twenty-one-verses of Psalm 145, David, the great king of Israel, leads the Israelites and all of creation in words of praise and thanksgiving to God as king over all. The heart of the psalm is found in verses 10-18, verses that describe God’s sovereignty over creation and God’s care for that creation.

In verse 10, David states that all of God’s works (all that God has created) will give thanks and all of God’s faithful ones will bless God. The word “faithful ones” is hasidim, a word derived from the word hesed. Hesed, translated most often in the NRSV as “steadfast love,” has to do with the covenant relationship between God and God’s people (see Exodus 19:3b-6a). Thus a better translation for hesed might be “covenant love,” and a better translation for hasidim in verse 10 might be “covenant partners.”

Verses 11-13 of the acrostic psalm celebrate the sovereignty of God in a masterful way. The corresponding acrostic letters of these verses, inverted, spell out the Hebrew word for king, mlk. And within the verses, the word ‘kingdom’ appears four times, at the beginning, the middle, and the end. These appearances form a triangular structure, with its apex at the end of verse 12 and its base at the beginnings of verses 11 and 13.

  • Verse 11: They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom, and tell of your power,
  • Verse 12: to make known to all people your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
  • Verse 13: Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

Having firmly established the sovereignty of God in verses 11-13, the psalm singer continues in verses 14-18 by cataloguing the gracious acts of God on behalf of creation. Significantly, the catalogue consists of verbal actions on God’s part.

These verbal actions are conveyed linguistically with active participles, emphasizing the ongoing nature of the acts. Thus the verbs describing God’s actions may be translated better in verse 14 as “the LORD is upholding … and is raising up;” in verse 15 as “you are giving to them;” in verse 16 as “opening your hand … satisfying;” and in verse 18 as “the LORD is being near.”

Such ongoing care from God is extended to “all who are falling, who are bowed down” (verse 14); “all who look to God” (verse 15); “every living being” (verse 16); “all who call on God, who call on God in truth” (verse 18). God’s sovereignty brings peace, security, well-being, and abundance for all who embrace the kingdom of God.

The message for the church today is simple and yet complex. In the midst of turmoil and uncertainty in the world, praising God as sovereign is the solution.

But what does that mean? We can speak the words, but how do we put them into action? God is indeed sovereign but we must be the hands and feet of God in God’s world — what some scholars call “a communitization” of kingship.

In the ancient Near East, the role of the king was to provide a safe place of habitation for humanity. That safety included dwelling places, farm land, drinking water, abundant harvests, increase of animals, and fertility within the family (see Psalm 72).

In our twenty-first century world, many people do not have the basic elements of safe habitation — whether as a result of poverty, societal violence, disease, or outright neglect. We must, in God’s name and as the hands and feet and heart of God, support those who are falling. We must lift up those who are bent down, give food in its time, open our hands, and hear and respond to cries for help.

1Adele Berlin “The Rhetoric of Psalm 145” in Biblical and Related Studies Presented to Samuel S. Iwry, edited by Ann Kort and Scott Morschauser (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1985) 17-22.

Second Reading

Commentary on Ephesians 3:14-21

Arland J. Hultgren

This section of the letter offers a bit of relief from the heavy theological portions that have been read up to this point.

It presents a moment of tenderness, in which the author speaks directly to his readers about his care for them. He speaks of his prayer for his readers, which he does on bended knee.

The paragraph begins abruptly with the phrase: “for this reason.” But for what reason? It refers to what has been said in the previous paragraphs about Paul’s ministry.

Paul, like other apostles, had been entrusted with revelation by the Spirit. Specifically, it had been revealed to him that Gentiles, who receive the gospel in faith, are fellow heirs of the promises of God. They too are members of the body of Christ, and therefore they have access to God. “For this reason,” the author prays that his readers may be strengthened in spiritual power, love, and knowledge.

The content of the prayer being offered is conveyed in Ephesians 3:16-19. Essentially there are four matters for which the author prays for the sake of his readers that they may have:

  • inner spiritual strength
  • the indwelling of Christ in their hearts
  • the ability to comprehend all the dimensions of spiritual realities
  • knowledge of the love of Christ

The third and fourth of these petitions beg for special comment. Ephesians 3:18 reads, “I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth.” One might rightly ask here, “Breadth, length, height, and depth of what?” We might picture in our minds all the vectors listed, imagining lines going up, down, side-ways, and beyond us, but in the end we are left with uncertainty as to what is being described. Normally the vectors have to do with the dimensions of physical realities, and so the author might be referring to comprehending the various dimensions of the physical universe.

Most likely, the author is using a metaphor to speak of the wonders of a multi-dimensional God, who is a God of power (Ephesians 1:19), rich in mercy (Ephesians 2:4), lavish in his grace (Ephesians 2:7; 3:7), and rich in wisdom (Ephesians3:10). The NIV takes liberty to interpret the verse by adding words to it: “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” Here is a good illustration of how “translation” inevitably involves “interpretation” — for better or worse.

In 3:19, the author speaks of knowing “the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.”  The expression “the love of Christ” by itself is ambiguous, for it could mean either Christ’s love for us or our love for him. The phrase probably means Christ’s love for us. To know his love is greater than knowledge itself. The Greek word used here for “knowledge” is gnōsis, and it is likely that the writer is referring to the kind of (spiritual) “knowledge” that, Paul says, can sometimes become puffed up (1 Corinthians 8:1).

The section closes with a doxology, giving glory to God (Ephesians 3:20-21). This glorification is “in the church and in Christ Jesus.” That is to say, it is within the company of believers in union with Christ that God is glorified. Such glorification is possible because the church is Christ’s body (Ephesians 1:23; 4:15-16; 5:30). Christ and his church are deeply and intimately one.

That does not mean that the church is Christ’s presence on earth, an extension of his incarnation. But it does mean that all who are incorporated into the church by faith and baptism are also in union with him, who is their Lord.

Reading this text in English can leave the impression that all those addressed by the pronouns “you” and “your” are singular. But in the Greek text, all of these pronouns are plurals. In other words, the writer addresses the readers as a corporate body. Thus, the four spiritual resources prayed for, and listed above, are to be found, developed, and exercised within the body of believers. At 3:16, however, that pattern is broken by use of an awkward expression. Both the NIV and NRSV translate the phrase eis ton esō anthrōpon as “in your inner being.” The RSV has “in the inner man.” The phrase refers apparently to the inner being of each person, the cognitive and spiritual aspect of each. But the phrase is placed within a sentence that addresses the readers corporately (the plural “you”).

Noticing the plural forms of address in this text is important for preaching on it. While each of those things prayed for are good for the individual, they are particularly appropriate for the church as a whole. In light of that way of thinking, it is possible to develop a sermon that explores three areas of life together in the congregation.

First, there is the matter of being strengthened (Ephesians 3:16). For most of us, we are strengthened and sustained by the witness of the company of believers with whom we worship. Beyond that, we are strengthened by the witness of those from the past whom we remember in the cycle of the church year — including those whose hymns we sing, and those whom we commemorate for their preaching, teaching, and acts of courage in society, based on Christian faith.

Second, it is the indwelling of Christ in the hearts of the congregation where love is produced (Ephesians 3:17). Christ cannot be simply a concept or a memory. The risen and living Christ comes to us in Word and Sacrament, and he seeks to find hearts in which to dwell. Where he is, there is love.

Third, it is in our life together as Christians that we find ever new vistas and insights into the vast world of God (Ephesians 3:18). If we have time to listen to one another, we discover stories of faith beyond our own. In conversations with others, listening to their prayers, and observing acts of kindness and generosity, we gain understandings of God and the world that we have not known before.

Finally, to know the love of Christ surpasses all other forms of our knowing (Ephesians 3:19). That is not to say that knowing other things is irrelevant for the Christian life. On the contrary, to know all we can about our world is important for living well. But to know the love of Christ is not something we can find out there “in the world.” Rather, it has been revealed to us by God, who sent his Son into the world. We celebrate that love whenever we gather for worship.

God accomplishes all this “by the power at work within us,” which exceeds our expectations. For all of this, we give thanks, joining with others in glorifying God forever (Ephesians 3:20-21).