16. LET US BE A HOLY PRIESTHOOD

THE ‘LET’ OF LENT – Wednesday, March 10th

Read 2 Peter 2:1-10.

Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:4-5, NRSV)

Trusting that we are precious in God’s sight, today our spiritual invitation is to come to God and Let ourselves become a holy priesthood. Doesn’t “holy priesthood” seem so lovely and sacred to your soul? Well, I had no idea how challenging this phrase might be when I selected this verse! I began researching the meaning of priesthood and I found MANY differing ideas about what priesthood is or should be!

But one article I found resonated with me. Here are a few excerpts…

The Ubuntu philosophy is derived from the Nguni saying Ubuntu ngumtu ngabanye abantu (“a person is a person through other people”). Ubuntu is… a profoundly personal philosophy, calling on people to act in a spirit of participation, cooperation, warmth, openness and dignity. There is a connection between Ubuntu and the Lutheran understanding of “the priesthood of all believers…” (in which) Martin Luther affirmed that all baptized Christians have equal access to God through prayer because all of them come to God through the mediatorial work of Christ (1 Timothy 2:5). 

That is the spirit of Ubuntu at work in building what Martin Luther King Jr., in “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” called a beloved community: “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly…” We all partake of a royal priesthood saved by God’s grace. In practicing Ubuntu, we realize that each of us has a role to play, which must be held in balance, no one dominating the other. A priesthood of equal believers.1

And when we read verses 1-3 of Peter’s words in this passage, we are encouraged to become such a holy and united community by doing this:

Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Malice, guile, insincerity, envy, and slander are all attempts to prove ourselves better than another. Through bringing others down, deceiving or tricking others, making ourselves look better than we are, resenting when others succeed, or talking about someone badly, we are comparing ourselves and competing with one another to reveal who is best. These ways are the opposite of the principles of Ubuntu and of Christ Jesus.

Our priesthood is a calling; a calling to live in that spirit of Ubuntu, that spirit of Jesus, that spirit of “participation, cooperation, warmth, openness and dignity.” We are not a royal priesthood because of anything we have done or any special merit on our part; we are a royal priesthood because of what God in Christ has done for us. We are not a royal priesthood to be elevated and set apart; we are to be part of a beloved community.

~~~~~

May we let God shape us into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, by removing those selfish tendencies in us that would seek to elevate ourselves – while diminishing our call to mutuality, compassion, and unity.

~~~~~

Our reading for tomorrow will be Matthew 7:1-5.

1Ubuntu and the priesthood of all believers – Living Lutheran
(William Flippin Jr. is the director for evangelical mission of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod.)

Photo by Natalie Pedigo on Unsplash

Bible verses found at https://classic.biblegateway.com/

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