1I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.
7But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8Therefore it is said, “When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people.” 9(When it says, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.) 11The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. 14We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. 15But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.
COVID-19 was not in our plans this year. We were looking forward to some family milestones—Ellie’s first horse show, Margaret’s dance recital, Peter’s first birthday celebrated with family. Katie and I were looking forward to a trip to Europe later in the summer, two whole weeks away from children (as it stands, we have spent most waking moments with children for the past ten weeks. Our last date may have been the weekend of Valentine’s day.) As frustrated as I feel, however, I know that many people have it much worse. For far too many this is a season of unspeakable grief, economic uncertainty, isolation, and alienation. As always, Paul, a prisoner, gives encouragement on how we are to live in times like these, no matter how serious or how mundane our situation may be. Some of the letter is simply good advice for people cooped up together for too long: “bear with one another in love.” But, more seriously, Paul casts a vision of God’s ultimate intention for our lives, which remains true no matter how far it feels like our plans have been derailed. If you’re looking for a job during COVID time, think about what Paul says—that we have been given gifts of the Spirit, pieces of God’s own power, so that we can grow into spiritual maturity, the full stature of Christ. This time is no different from any others; it’s a time for us to exercise the gifts of God entrusted to our care—no matter how strong or feeble—so that we can grow to resemble the love of the savior in our own lives. This is always God’s plan; it puts ours into perspective.
God, we need nothing less than your grace to grow into the life you intend for us. Let your Spirit take root within us, growing us into the stature and maturity of Jesus Christ. We pray in his name. Amen.