Episcopal Church in Minnesota

Environmental Stewardship Commission (MEESC) Lectionary Reflection Holy Name of Jesus (January 1) New Testament (Hebrew Scripture) Reading

Phillippians 2, vs 4-13: Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Reflection on Phillipians 2, vs 4-13: by the Rev John Gibbs

This great hymn to Christ is immediately followed by the ethical exhortation that grows from it. The hymn has described the dual movement both downward and upward, both humiliation and exaltation in the life of Christ. The downward movement was Jesusí choice in his life of obedience even down into death. The upward movement was Godís response of exalting Jesus to the position of "Lord" or "Sovereign" "in heaven and on earth and under the earth."

What follows from that cosmic order for those who bear Christís name is this: "Öwork out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure." That is, as seen from below, our life is one of struggle and work, combining reverence ("fear") and eager anticipation ("trembling"). As seen "under the aspect of eternity," however, all this effort on our part is essentially "God at work in you."

Faith and works are interconnected, human effort and divine initiative intercalated. That was the pattern of Christís life among us. It is the pattern of our life for Him.

It has been said that the only person who can be trusted with power is the one who never asked for it, does not seek it, and will not lust for it. The only One whom God raised to be "Sovereign" in the cosmos was such a Person. The only people to whom governance over nature can safely be granted are those who follow "in His steps." Environmental ethics are the lifestyles of care, service, obedience, "compassion and sympathy" (Phil. 2:1). The pattern of Christís life among and for us is the pattern of stewards of the earth.

John G. Gibbs, PhD, a retired theologian, attends Trinity Episcopal Church, Park Rapids, MN. He originally wrote this reflection in 1998. He and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to John Gibbs or any MEESC member, or mail them to:

<MEESC c/o C. Morello 4451 Lakeside Drive Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA

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