"Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you." Ephesians 4:31-32 (NRSV)
The Apostle Paul knew how to write a letter! His timeless messages always carry an oomph like you've been hit in the stomach expelling all the air. Today's text is no exception. He says all the things that are sinful selves are naturally drawn towards; put them away. Lock them up tight in a box and toss them in the depths of the ocean. All the negative news from the media outlets, the gossip, and how it makes us think and feel--get rid of it; it does nothing but fester, threatening our well-being.
That is step one. When we do that, it is easier for us to look upon each other in a different light. We accept we are flawed people--yes, none of us perfect--it makes it easier for us to forgive each other. Once freed of those burdens, we begin to see the good things happening around us. Not everything is doom and gloom; there are many examples of ordinary people doing good in our communities. Volunteers at food banks that hand out food to the hungry, businesses who donate goods to the homeless, organizers working for second chance justice and the list goes on. When we forsake our sinful tendencies, we come to appreciate the fullness of God's grace and experience the full transformational power found in Jesus Christ.
Loving and merciful God, we give you thanks for transformation. By ourselves, we find it difficult to put away all the negativity that can harden our hearts. We confess that sometimes we allow our souls to be calloused, and we develop a mentality of "us" and "them." The "us" then becomes so fractured that it becomes only "me.” Father, please forgive us, help us set aside the harmful things, instead let us focus on those things that unite and make us "we.” Help us become your transformed creation, forgiving and loving each other as you love us. Amen.
Peace and Blessings,