Speaking to the Soul: The Still-Pending Crisis

Week of 3 Lent, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 80 (morning) // 77, (79) (evening)

Genesis 44:18-34

1 Corinthians 7:25-31

Mark 5:21-43

The context for so much of Paul’s marriage and business advice is that a major crisis is just around the corner. Paul believed that the world as he and his fellow human beings knew it was about to be destroyed, and that Jesus would return any minute as this world’s judge. As Paul writes to the unmarried in today’s second reading, “I think that, in view of the impending crisis, it is well for you to remain as you are.” What’s the point of settling down if the world is about to be upended?

Warning his readers that “the appointed time has grown short,” Paul counsels Christians to avoid the distress of marriage, to let emotional states like mourning or rejoicing fade away, and to cease commercial activity and other forms of engagement with the world. As Paul writes, “the present form of this world is passing away.” But in later centuries, what Paul considered to be passing states came to be seen as durable institutions.

How can we balance Paul’s advice to let this world pass us by with a recognition that this world has long outlasted Paul’s predictions? Contrary to Paul’s expectations, it turns out that this world may indeed be worth our major investments in deep relationships, in emotional highs and lows, and in encounters with the many riches of our planet. But Paul’s advice reminds us that our investments in the experience of this world should not become unhealthy attachments that keep us from the kingdom that Jesus preached.

We later Christians live in the context not of an imminent crisis, but of a kingdom that constantly calls us to a life beyond worldly obsessions with relationship status, emotional roller coasters, and buying and selling this world away.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as Priest Associate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and assists with education, young adult ministry, and campus ministry at St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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