Kneeling Pilgrim, John Frederick Lewis, 1870, Worcester Art Museum
I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. Ephesians 3:14
The Gospel reading for Sunday is the feeding of the five thousand from John 6, but the reading from Ephesians, the second lesson, kept drawing my attention, so I’ll preach on that Sunday. In this letter we see how Christian theology (Christian ideas) may shape our view of life, change the way we think of ourselves, of others, of the world, change the way we feel and act. The author claims that there is power in ideas, which gets us to that central complex teaching that God is a “word” that is “spoken” and is “speaking” in a number of ways: in creation, in the Bible, in Jesus, in the readings and sacraments on Sunday morning.
We could say this: we are what people who have power over us say we are. If you are told repeatedly that you can’t do something, or that you are stupid, unattractive, clumsy or lazy, for example, you might become what those people say you are. Their words have power. If you are told repeatedly that you are smart, beautiful, graceful and focused, you might soon feel that you are these. The passage from Ephesians has this sort of thing in mind: there is power in words. Words may shape, create, reform human lives and human associations. God’s word claims us and, through Christ, names us, gives us a heritage, a lineage, a purpose in life, frees us from the power of other peoples’ words.