Devotional Nov 13 2021

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Psalm 87, 90; 1 Macc. 2:1-28; Rev. 20:1-6; Matt. 16:21-28
 
When Peter tells Jesus that His message is too hard (because it’s not happy-happy joy-joy, not good-things-come-to-those-who-wait), Jesus turns and snaps at him. ‘Get behind me, Satan, you stumbling block: your mind is set on earthly and not heavenly things!’
 
Every religious and philosophical system has to deal with the question on how to square its encouragement to do the right thing (whatever that is, depending on the system in question) with the harsh reality that sometimes, doing the wrong thing is precisely what wins the game in the short run. And that sometimes, the short run is longer than the natural life of those who break or follow the rules. Bandits and thieves found dynasties which are respectable because the brutality and cheating which got them into castles and corporate offices are generations or centuries removed from the original crime. Bad guys don’t always lose, good guys don’t always win. Karma and reincarnation, staring into the abyss of despair, eternal judgment of resurrected individuals, embracing the darkness and saying might makes right–every system adopts something like one of these four ways to square the equation over time, to say that eventually, even if it takes an eternity, you reap what you sow.
 
What we can’t do is become pollyanna about things, blindly and foolishly clinging to the delusion that it’ll all turn out right in the end if we just have a little patience. Jesus flatly rejects that kind of false optimism here: He tells Peter that denying the reality that crucifixion is coming, is unavoidable, and is absolutely unjust is, well, worse than delusional. It’s ungodly. We’re supposed to be realistic, friends. To see things as they are and not deny the hard edges and the tough truths. To do the right thing, in other words, because we believe that it is the will of God and so follow the path of the Master, to do so because it is (as we understand it) God’s will and not because we think it will earn us long life, prosperity, and the applause of the crowds, to do so even if we are pretty sure it will get us fired, ridiculed and standing alone in the rain without an umbrella.
 
Steven Wilson

Steven Wilson

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Grace Church is the oldest Episcopal parish in the four states area.
Rooted in worship of the Risen Christ, we draw our understanding of His commandment to love one another from Holy Scripture, reason and tradition—and we encourage our membership actively to seek a deeper personal relationship with Christ, a relationship founded in love of God and of neighbor.

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