We are continuing our reading of Ephesians Chapter 3. The formal assigned reading begins at verse 14, but to me just picking up Paul there clips off the entire thrust of his story in this chapter. Verse 14 forward is Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians (and all the people of God) based on the revelation in the prior verses. Verse 10 – “God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. (Eph. 3:10 NLT)” – is the hinge to me. Prior I hope we know from the book of Acts of Galatians and the first two chapters of Ephesians. But Paul adds this rich line about God’s purpose. This sermon examines that line in all its richness and terror. And then it seeks to understand Paul’s prayer for us in light of that calling to display the wisdom of God. This is the Christian life in its cosmic purpose. This is the Christian life connected to its deep meaning.
That title is the question of purpose; it is the specter of despair. It is also something that Jesus, in his time on this earth, experienced with us. And in his experience showed us how we should attempt to answer. As with all things Jesus it is so simple anyone could do it, yet not simplistic or limiting in any way. The sermon develops the role of that question in Jesus’ life, the thread of continuity found in the will of the Father through changes in purpose. It then develops that teaching for our lives.
The framing in the world was a massive lottery jackpot. This is not a railing against the lottery, but let me just say the things we surround ourselves with and allow say something about us. The massive growth of lotteries, casinos and “gaming” over my lifetime might tell us something about what we actually worship or at least how we view the world. A step away from despair is to see the world as random, nothing more that lottery balls bouncing through the world.
There are many things we can take from Palm Sunday or the Pilate Readings. But one theme would be that the world has a King. This world is anything but random. If we are tempted to think that nothing matters – like the world weary Pilate – the passion says no. Everything is full of meaning. And the most meaningful things are rarely dressed like Kings but can be found in the humblest places.