Blessed Trinity - 25 January 2018

Neville Turley

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”  2 Corinthians 13:14 (NIV)

After the Lord’s Prayer, our verse for today is probably the most repeated prayer in all Christian denominations. Many congregations say it as a benediction at the end of every church service. The problem of prayers that are often repeated is that one recites them so glibly their words become irrelevant.

The church at Corinth had major problems. Deep divisions, rivalries and disputes were tearing the congregation apart.  In addition, a group of Jewish Christians had come from Jerusalem, claiming to represent the other apostles. They aggravated the situation by their criticisms of Paul.

Paul was in Macedonia at the time, he sent Titus with a letter to deal with the situation. Titus met with the church and was able to report that the Corinthian church had been reconciled to Paul.

It was against that background that Paul wrote 2 Corinthians. He had been deeply hurt by the personal attacks levelled against him, his authority and his Apostolic commission from a church that he had founded. It must have been a painful letter for him to write, yet he rounded it off with our verse for today.

Paul draws on three attributes – grace, love and fellowship. 

Martin Luther’s explanation of justification by faith states that in Christ, God’s grace is given to us as a free and unconditional gift of love.

Love leads us back to the source of that love – God. God is not only a loving God, he is love.  One of the great differences between the Old and New Testament is that the Old Testament repeatedly tells us that the Lord loves the righteous and that is absolutely true. The New Testament gives us the joyous assurance that although we are sinners Christ died for us – such was the measure of God’s love.

Fellowship is from the Greek word, koinona. It is in this fellowship with the Holy Spirit that we receive the gifts and graces that transforms believers and allows us to grow spiritually in the footsteps of Jesus. 

Paul’s prayer is that this grace, this love, this fellowship will be with us now and forever more.

Prayer: God in Trinity, eternal unity of perfect love, may we be one with you for all eternity.  This I ask for your love’s sake.  Amen

 

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