The Praise of God’s Glory – Br. James Koester

Ephesians 1: 11 – 14

There is a phrase that appears twice in today’s lesson from the Letter to the Ephesians that immediately grabs my attention. We read, as I said, not once, but twice the praise of his glory. On the first occasion we hear so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory.[1] A few verses later we read this [being marked by the Holy Spirit] is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people to the praise of his glory.[2]

It is this image of living for the praise of God’s glory that attracts me, and it is what, I think we hint at, when we say in our Rule that God chooses us from varied places backgrounds to become a company of friends, spending our whole life abiding in him and giving ourselves up to the attraction of his glory.[3]

It also for me connects to one of my favourite lines in the psalter, yet you are the Holy One, enthroned upon the praises of Israel.[4]

This image of glory and praise is woven throughout the text of Scripture, and indeed throughout our Rule of Life, but not in an abstract, other worldly way. The glory of God, as St. Irenaeus reminds us, is the living  person, and the life of humanity is the vision of God.[5] To be alive is to be a living sign of God’s glory; our purpose to behold that same glory.

Over the last few weeks, I have been praying with the passage from Philippians that we read on Sunday. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.[6]

The glory of God is all around us, in the true, the honourable, the just, the pure, the pleasing, the commendable. It is a vision of that same glory which is revealed to us in the life of Jesus, and which we see in the breaking in of God’s kingdom here and now. Where we see truth, honour, purity, we see the glory of God, and when we behold God’s glory, especially in another person, we are brought to our knees in praise.

Lectionary Year and Proper: Year A, Proper 23, Friday

[1] Ephesians 1: 12

[2] Ephesians 1: 14

[3] SSJE, Rule of Life, The Call of the Society, chapter 1, page 2

[4] Psalm 22: 3

[5] St. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, c. AD 130 – c. AD 202, feast day 28 June, Irenaeus Against Heresies, Book 4, Chapter 34, Section 7

[6] Philippians 4: 8

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