Love One Another

Scripture Focus: 1 Peter 3:8-9
8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 

Reflection: Love One Another
By Erin Newton

If you took time to read all the verses that command God’s people to love one another and pursue peace, it would take quite a while. Love one another. (John 13.34-35) Show faithful love and compassion to one another. (Zechariah 7.9). Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters. (Romans 12.10). Let us consider one another in order to provoke love. (Hebrews 10.24) And on and on. Why the repetition? Wouldn’t one command have been enough?

People have always struggled in relationships. Families are broken. Friendships are strained. Neighbors are viewed as enemies. Since the breaking of peace in the Garden of Eden, humanity has been at odds with itself. This should not be so. This is the brokenness of our world.

After exhorting people in specific relationships, one last call to unity is given to the whole congregation. Peter reminds his church to seek what is good: Love. Sympathy. Compassion. Humility. Cautious words. Slowness to speak. Blessings to others.

We cannot blame our hatred, rudeness, malice, anger, or selfishness on ignorance. Too many commands have taught us to behave otherwise. Being a jerk is a conscious decision. We choose not to love someone. We choose not to speak kindly. We choose not to withhold insults.

For those who live in the United States, many will awaken to news of newly elected leaders. Some of the results will be for decisions or people we supported and others will not.

Over the last few years, culture has sunk into a climate of animosity. Our values and beliefs have turned us against one another. Sadly, it has seeped into our churches. Christians, united by the Holy Spirit, have turned against one another.

For our friends around the world, it will be another day with other concerns. No matter what the day brings, we still have the opportunity to choose our responses to one another.

Let us strive for something worthwhile. Let us strive for peace. If we are going to use up all our emotional energy targeting something, let it be with the energy of love and kindness. If we are going to be screaming, may it be words of life and encouragement. If we are going to focus our attention on someone for something they said, let us put our noses into our Bibles and read God’s words instead.

People will be watching us today and in the days to come. Be a worthy spectacle.

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Jesus taught the people, saying: “Good people draw what is good from the store of goodness in their hearts; bad people draw what is bad from the store of badness. For the words of the mouth flow out of what fills the heart.” — Luke 6.45

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Ezekiel 40 (Listen 8:21) 
1 Peter 3 (Listen 3:30)

Read more about Good and Pleasant Unity? A Prayer for Election Week
Talking about unity is almost universally seen as a political power grab and talking of civility is seen as capitulation.

Read more about Confessing Hostility—Guided Prayer
Like rebellious, prodigal children, our hostility breaks fellowship with you and with our brothers and sisters.

Deo Gratias

Scripture Focus: 1 Peter 3.17-18
For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.

From John: After celebrating Thanksgiving yesterday in the United States, we continue to focus on giving thanks over this weekend by looking back at this post from 2019 offering praise and thankfulness to our God.

Reflection: Deo Gratias
By William Cooper (fl. 1653)

St. Augustine inaugurated that ancient custom among Christians, in whose mouths you should always hear these words: Deo Gratias, “Thanks be to God!” When they met and saluted one another, Deo Gratias, “God be thanked.” When they heard any tidings of persecution or protection, favor or frown, gain or loss, cross or comfort — still Deo Gratias.

“What,” said Augustine, “shall brothers in Christ not give God thanks when they see one another? What better thing can we speak, or think, or write, than this? God be thanked! Nothing can be more compendiously spoken, nor more gladly heard, nor more solemnly understood, nor more profitably acted, than this; God be thanked!”

Such a frame of heart had holy Job: “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

And such a one was in the sweet singer of Israel: “I will bless the Lord at all times.” Notable is that of Chrysostom: “There is nothing, nothing we can study, more pleasing to God than to be thankful — not only in good days but also when things fall cross. This is the best sacrifice and oblation we offer God.”

This made Jerome say, “It is peculiar to Christians to give thanks in adversity. To praise God for benefits, this [anyone] can do. To give God thanks in dangers according to the apostle’s sense, and in miseries — to always to say, ‘Blessed be God’ — this is the highest pitch of virtue. Here is your Christian; such a one takes up his cross, and follows his Savior: no loss or cross can dishearten him.”

To give God thanks for crosses and afflictions is to be numbered among those singular things which Christians are bound to excel in. We ought excel beyond [those who do not believe] in loving our enemies and blessing those that curse — which our Savior exhorts and commands.

We must thank the Lord for afflicting us, and for laying the cross upon us, because it is so far below what we deserve at his hands. To drink as He drank it we cannot — we need not. Thank God, then, that you have such a little share of it — when all was your portion by right and justice. This is worthy of our thanks.

Text excerpted from How Must We In All Things Give Thanks? 

Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
Oh God, you know my foolishness, and my faults are not hidden from you. — Psalm 69.6

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
1 Chronicles 22 (Listen – 3:25)
1 Peter 3 (Listen – 3:30)

This Weekend’s Readings
1 Chronicles 23 (Listen – 4:20), 1 Peter 4 (Listen – 2:50)
1 Chronicles 24-25 (Listen – 7:01), 1 Peter 5 (Listen – 2:11)

Read more about A Thanksgiving
Deny me wealth, fear, far remove
The love of power or name;
Hope thrives in straits, in weakness love,
And faith in the world’s shame.

Read more about Thanksgiving Stirs God’s Heart
If we could only see the heart of the Father, we would be drawn into praise and thanksgiving more often. — Richard Foster

How Must We In All Things Give Thanks?

Scripture Focus: 1 Peter 3.17-18
For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 

From John:
This week is Thanksgiving week in the United States. As we focus on giving thanks, we will look at ancient and modern poetry, writings, and prayers, offering praise and thankfulness to our God.

Reflection: How Must We In All Things Give Thanks?
By William Cooper (fl. 1653)

St. Augustine inaugurated that ancient custom among Christians, in whose mouths you should always hear these words: Deo gratias, “Thanks be to God!” When they met and saluted one another, Deo gratias, “God be thanked.” When they heard any tidings of persecution or protection, favor or frown, gain or loss, cross or comfort — still Deo gratias.

“What,” said Augustine, “shall brothers in Christ not give God thanks when they see one another? What better thing can we speak, or think, or write, than this? God be thanked! Nothing can be more compendiously spoken, nor more gladly heard, nor more solemnly understood, nor more profitably acted, than this; God be thanked!”

Such a frame of heart had holy Job: “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

And such a one was in the sweet singer of Israel: “I will bless the Lord at all times.” Notable is that of Chrysostom: “There is nothing, nothing we can study, more pleasing to God than to be thankful — not only in good days, but also when things fall cross. This is the best sacrifice and oblation we offer God.”

This made Jerome say, “It is peculiar to Christians to give thanks in adversity. To praise God for benefits, this [anyone] can do. To give God thanks in dangers according to the apostle’s sense, and in miseries — to always to say, ‘Blessed be God’ — this is the highest pitch of virtue. Here is your Christian; such a one takes up his cross, and follows his Savior: no loss or cross can dishearten him.”

To give God thanks for crosses and afflictions is to be numbered among those singular things which Christians are bound to excel in. We ought excel beyond [those who do not believe] in loving our enemies and blessing those that curse — which our Savior exhorts and commands.

We must thank the Lord for afflicting us, and for laying the cross upon us, because it is so far below what we deserve at his hands. To drink as He drank it we cannot — we need not. Thank God, then, that you have such a little share of it — when all was your portion by right and justice. This is worthy of our thanks.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
Out of Zion, perfect in its beauty, God reveals himself in glory. —Psalm 50:2

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
1 Chronicles 22 (Listen -5:21), 
1 Peter 3 (Listen -3:30)

Thank You!
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Read more about Collective Thanksgiving
May we use this week to engage our communities—church, work, and home—in thanksgiving for what God is doing in and through us.

Read more about Seeing Beyond Suffering
To be conformists to Christ, is to be nonconformists to the world. But what conforms us more to Christ than the cross? Therefore give thanks for it