Pentecost +7 - Year B
How does it feel to be destined, fated, determined?
This is Paul saying that he has filched a copy of G*D’s plan while visiting a seventh heaven (well, third, at least) and all will be well if you give in to the plan now and praise, praise, praise.
When you believed you got the Good Holy Spirit seal of approval (now where did I put that?) which is your guarantee of moving toward getting paid for praising. Maybe it is still a long, long way off, but if you can pin that seal of approval on your lapel it is bound to happen by and by.
A blessing is appreciated, but a bit of its edge is taken off when there is a self-serving expectation that comes with it.
In its day Ephesus was the population equivalent of a Chicago or Houston in the USofA. You can pretty much expect that there will be an audience for a blessing of any kind. Imagine how many sects are in a large city and then begin to add them together. An American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) in 2008 indicated 2,804,000 people in the USofA were part of New Religious Movements & Others (many of which sound very Pauline but with non-Christ imagery) and 34,169,000 had no “religion”. Paul would have had a built-in audience.
So far a pretty negative review of “celebratory theology”. This does shift if the first two verses are left in. Here the context set is that of a community, not an individual. Our tendency these days is to privatize faith and religion. It also shifts if we extend the passage for two more verses, which orients folks to others. To universally celebrate is one thing; to celebrate from a privileged position is quite another. Eventually these matters come down to how one experiences being welcomed rather than acceding to an internally coherent theology. The above mentioned seal of approval is not a lapel pin, but the reality of community. Can folks see our “love of one another” or just my looking for an edge?