Formed for Faithfulness: The Third Week of Ordinary Time

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Show Notes

In this third week of “Ordinary” (or “Normal”) time, Case reflects on the ways in which we can approach international relations with humility, discernment, and the full armor of God.

Nuance’s Formed for Formation is a weekly liturgy to encourage all of us to be faithful to Christ in the public square. Join Case Thorp as he follows the Church calendar through the reading of Scripture, prayer, and short reflections on faith in all facets of public life.

For more on being faithful in the public square, make sure to subscribe for Nuance’s bi-weekly interviews with Christian leaders as they discuss everything from policy making to difficult conversations across worldviews at work to Christian art-creation.

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Episode Transcript

Green, verdant, fecund, the smell of freshly cut grass, growth, metamorphosis. These are the colors, images and smells of a season of growth, the Christian liturgical season of normal time. 

And so to start us today, a poem entitled Dawn of Redemption. 

Spiritual vines entwine the soul.

Victory in Jesus makes us whole. 

New life arises with morning’s kiss. 

A symphony of joy, celestial bliss. 

Christ reigns and the hearts expand. 

Salvation’s dance, a sacred dance.

In the garden of grace we thrive. 

In the light of Christ, forever alive.

A reading from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, chapter 6, beginning in verse 10. 

6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power.

6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

6:12 For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

6:13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

6:14 Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness.

6:15 As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.

6:16 With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

6:17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

6:18 Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.

6:19 Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,

6:20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.

Ephesians 6 offers a powerful metaphorical image of spiritual warfare, urging believers to put on the whole armor of God to stand against the schemes of the devil. This passage not only speaks to the individual believer’s spiritual battle, but also carries implications for international relations and the broader cosmic struggle between good and evil. In the realm of international relations, we often witness conflicts, tensions, and power struggles among nations and peoples. These conflicts may be fueled by political ambitions, economic interests, ideological differences, or historical grievances. Yet, underlying these visible manifestations of discord lies a deeper spiritual reality. The cosmic battle between the forces of light, and darkness. 

Paul reminds us that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. This truth invites us to view international relations through a spiritual lens, recognizing the influence of unseen powers and principalities at work in the world. It challenges us to approach diplomacy, peace building and conflict resolution with humility, discernment, and prayerful dependence on God’s guidance and protection. Moreover, just as believers are called to put on the whole armor of God to withstand the schemes of the devil, so too are nations called to cultivate virtues and values that promote peace, justice, and righteousness in the international arena. The belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the spirit. 

All these elements of the spiritual armor are essential for nations to navigate in the complexities of global relations with wisdom, integrity, and courage. As ambassadors of Christ in a world marred by sin and brokenness, we are called to pray fervently for the peace and wellbeing of all nations.

We are called to advocate for justice, reconciliation, and human dignity, bearing witness to the transformative power of the gospel in our interactions with others. And like the apostle Paul, we are called to boldly proclaim the mystery of the gospel, trusting in God’s sovereign purposes and provision, even in the face of adversity. As we reflect on Ephesians 6 and its relevance to international relations, may we be strengthened by the Lord’s might and equipped with the whole armor of God to stand firm against the forces of darkness. May we approach the complexities of global affairs with humility, discernment, and a steadfast commitment to truth and righteousness. And may we faithfully fulfill our role as ambassadors of Christ, proclaiming His gospel boldly and praying earnestly for the peace and prosperity of all nations. Amen.

A reading from Joshua, selections from chapter 24.

24:2a lived beyond the Euphrates and served other gods.

24:14 “Now therefore revere the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.

24:15 Now if you are unwilling to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

24:16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods;

24:17 for it is the LORD our God who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight. He protected us along all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed;

24:18 and the LORD drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God.”

A prayer for the world brought by an amazing ministry, Compassion International.

God, we pray for countries experiencing the turmoil of human conflict and political instability. We ask for peace to be restored. Please grant wisdom and integrity to world leaders so that they will work for the good of the people they govern and serve. We pray that citizens everywhere would have their rights preserved so they can live peacefully, free from fear. Amen.

Father God, we bring before you all those who’ve had to flee their homes due to persecution and conflict. May they find loving communities where they can settle and find healing from trauma. May they come to experience your peace. Loving heavenly father, we pray that the people they meet will be kind and compassionate. We lift them to you and ask for your protection over them. Amen.

Lord, we pray for world peace in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. We pray for countries to find diplomatic solutions that will bring harmony between nations. We pray for wars to end. We give thanks for your promise that one day there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain. Until that day, we pray for your continued grace and goodness to overflow in this world, so that all humans can live alongside one another respectfully, allowing for mutual flourishing. Amen.

And finally, a reading from the 34th Psalm beginning in verse 15.

34:15 The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry.

34:16 The face of the LORD is against evildoers, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

34:17 When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears, and rescues them from all their troubles.

34:18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.

34:19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD rescues them from them all.

34:20 He keeps all their bones; not one of them will be broken.

34:21 Evil brings death to the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.

34:22 The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.