You are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling-place for God.
(From the Daily Office Lectionary – Ephesians 2:19-22 – May 19, 2012)
I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to quote this bit or the story from Numbers 11 (also in the Lectionary cycle for today) in which Moses chose 70 men to receive a portion of the spirit and to take on some of the burden of the people. Two of the men, Eldad and Medad, did’t make it to the tent of meeting, but nonetheless received the spirit in the camp. Joshua, Moses’ assistant, protested but Moses replied, “Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit on them!” It seems to me that Paul is saying that’s what God accomplishes in Jesus; that all people now are prophets, all have the spirit, all together are becoming a dwelling place for God. ~ Today I’m drawn to Paul’s opening words in this passage, particularly “you are citizens.” We’ve seen a lot of politicking in our country recently and a lot of talk about a citizen’s duty. Partisans on both the Left and the Right correctly assert that a citizen should ask questions, know what’s going on, and be informed. I believe this is true regardless of where one lives, whether one is a citizen of the United States, Canada, Ireland, or Cameroon. Wherever one is a citizen, one should do these things to be an active participant in one’s country. ~ If we are “citizens with the saints,” of what are we citizens. Paul answers this question elsewhere saying “our citizenship is in heaven.” (Philippians 3:20) As citizens of heaven, then, we should be as informed as possible about “that heavenly country where, with all [God’s] saints, we [hope to] enter the everlasting heritage of [God’s] sons and daughters.” (BCP 1979, p. 369) This means that throughout life we have an obligation to engage in bible study, in life-long Christian formation and education, in asking questions of clergy and church leaders and questioning the answers we receive. There should never be “graduation” from Sunday School! ~ There is much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth today about the failure of the church and its state of decline, and much of it is warranted. At root, however, I believe part of the fault for the state of the church lies in the laps of its leadership over the past several decades, leaders who have failed to encourage the church’s members to think of themselves as spirit-filled citizens, and I believe part of the failure in all this lies with ourselves and our fellow citizens to stay truly active and informed. ~ Do I have a solution? No, not really. I offer no panacea, just encouragement to acknowledge the spirit within you, to get involved, and be an informed citizen of heaven. Like the consuls of revolutionary France I cry, “Let our citizens arise for the security of what they hold most dear, for the sacred interests of humanity!”