What is the power we receive from God? How does it work? In this short series, we’ll explore at least several ways scripture teaches us about God’s power at work in our lives. Special services for All Saints Sunday and Reign of Christ Sunday bookend our exploration. Join us and learn more about “the immeasurable greatness of God’s power.” (Ephesians 1:19)
Power to Believe
A meditation shared by Rev. Ginger E. Gaines-Cirelli with Foundry UMC, November 6, 2022, Observation of All Saints. “Power” series.
Text: Ephesians 1:11-23
When you love, you live. This is at the heart of God’s promise revealed in Jesus. We reflected on this at length last week prompted by the lawyer who asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” The answer: love God with your whole being and your neighbor as yourself. Jesus teaches that when we do this, we live. When you love, you live.
Love has power—healing power, reconciling power, courage-giving power, liberating power, redemptive power, peace-giving power, new life-giving power, resurrection power.
And the source of ALL love is God.
The writer of Ephesians, likely a disciple of Paul, prays that we will perceive the hope to which we are called, the riches of God’s glorious inheritance for us, and the “immeasurable greatness of God’s power for us who believe, according to the working of God’s great power.” (Eph 1:17-19)
The hope to which we are called is life lived in the Way of Jesus Christ. We are given grace to live, love, and serve as Christ in the world, and as a result, to be signs of hope for others.
God’s inheritance for us is salvation after salvation, redemption, freedom, and new life. God’s inheritance for us is, as many of us learned as children, peace like a river, love like an ocean, and joy like a fountain in our soul.
And what is God’s power? It is love—the ever-present love of God, active in our lives and always at work for good in the world. We call it grace.
We believe by the power of God’s love and grace. This belief isn’t a head thing, as much as it is a heart thing. We can believe in the hope of God’s calling, we can believe in God’s promise of redemption and new life, because God loves us steadfastly, God stays with us even when we have sinned and done harm, God believes in us even when we struggle to believe in ourselves.
And God gives us one another to learn how this works. I think of those in my own life who have loved me, forgiven me, remained with me when I was a mess, and believed in me when I just couldn’t believe in myself. Family members, friends, colleagues, siblings in the body of Christ…
The saints in my life, some living in the church triumphant and some still laboring in this world, help me believe in love, in goodness, in promises, in reconciliation, in new life. They help me believe through the ways they have embodied the way of Jesus in my life, through the power of God’s love flowing through them.
Who are the saints who have inspired your belief, your faith, your trust in God and in the gifts of God? Who are the saints who have helped you believe in yourself? Who are the saints who have encouraged you to hold on to your faith that goodness is stronger than evil and love is stronger than fear and hatred?
Part of this day is to remember saints, known and unknown to us, who have born witness to the power of God’s love and mercy in the world and have changed lives and changed the world as a result.
We know there is no saint who is fully perfected in love; there is no saint who has not sinned—for we are all finite and vulnerable to temptations that do harm.
But part of the glorious inheritance promised by God is redemption, the promise that any life that turns toward God in love and humility will be received by God who is always waiting to welcome the prodigal child home. We don’t have to understand God’s mercy and grace. We don’t have to know how or when it works. We don’t even have to feel warm feelings about this promise. But imagine for a moment the extravagance of God’s love for you even when you do your worst, a love that understands how you got into whatever mess, who knows what leads you to do harm. If it can be true for you and for me, it is also true for others, even those we cannot love.
And that brings us to the next line in Ephesians that says, “God put this power to work in Christ when God raised him from the dead and seated him at God’s right hand in the heavenly places.”
The power of God’s love and mercy promised to us is the power of resurrection, it is Easter power, the power to bring new life from the wreckage and pain of human fear and sin; it is the power that raised Jesus to new life and that fuels the promise of life beyond this one for you and for me. It is God’s love that holds all those we love and see no more in this world. They are held and sojourn in God’s all-embracing, redemptive, love and peace. //
I will close with some simple words from Wendell Berry that seem appropriate on this day and in this time of such deep anxiety and uncertainty. Berry writes.
those who have learned
to love one another
have made their way
to the lasting world
and will not leave,
God’s love and grace gives us the power to believe this. Thanks be to God.