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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  1. Michael Barber on October 10, 2021 at 13:21

    Brother James,

    Thank you for the good words from you and your fellow Brothers. You help uplift the spirits of many more than you may realize. You have also given me personally, spiritual guidance for four decades.

    Blessings and love to you.

  2. Dawn Browne on October 9, 2021 at 22:29

    Thank you brother James. There is phrase that I am often inclined to use when thinking or talking about the meaning, or call of my life and indeed that of all living things. “Live to the glory of God!” The flowers and the birds and trees do this and so should we. It sounds simple and means much. It calls me in humility to praise and thanksgiving but also to share the pain of all who suffer.

  3. Gwedhen L Nicholas on October 9, 2021 at 15:58

    Dear Br James,
    Thank you for your inspiring reflection. I love that verse in Philippians, and had always thought of it as only looking on, and hearing things that have those attributes. I love your take on it…that whenever we see or hear these things we are beholding God’s glory. Falling on my knees because of another person, happened to me yesterday. I had a new friend over, and I could see the glory of God in him, and it made me so glad.
    This time of year it is easy to see God’s glory in nature, as the leaves begin to turn, and we are thankful for all the abundance of the harvest.

  4. Ken Johnson on October 9, 2021 at 12:34

    Thank you for this. I find it interesting and worth further reflection that Irenaeus speaks of the “ … life of humanity…” and not the life of isolate humans. Especially worth considering in America today.

  5. Rick Porter on October 9, 2021 at 07:15

    It is always amazing to think that we, these messy specimens, have been redeemed as God’s own people to the praise of his glory. I must strive to live up to and into such a person. Thank you Brother James.

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