But fornication and impurity of any kind, or greed, must not even be mentioned among you, as is proper among saints. Entirely out of place is obscene, silly, and vulgar talk; but instead, let there be thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure person, or one who is greedy (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
It’s fair to say the reason I chose this reading today, isn’t because I love it, it certainly doesn’t rank as one of my all-time favourite scripture! Rather, it’s because I signed up late and it was one of the very few ‘left-overs’. It isn’t a passage, I’ve ever preached on without its surrounding, more encouraging context, when we are called ‘light of the Lord’ and exhorted to ‘Be filled with the Spirit’. It would be lovely, if we could extract the difficult bits, from the Bible. To have ‘light’ without ‘darkness’, ‘fragrant offerings’, without ‘sacrifice’. But it isn’t an option and light reveals shadows.
Paul refers to these shadows, the ‘unspeakable, that must not even be mentioned among you’. ‘Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them, for everything exposed by the light becomes visible’. Ephesians 5:11-12.
We may have shadows, needing to be brought into the light, confessed to God, for his mercy and forgiveness. But, urges Paul, don’t forget in all things thanksgiving.
Sorry Lord for the times I’ve been selective about your Word, seeking comfort not challenge. Help me to engage with your word, even when it means revealing the shadows in my life. Transform me, by the power of your Holy Spirit and equip me, to be an instrument of praise, giving glory to you. Amen.
The Rev’d Sally Willett is minister of Thamesmead Community Church and an Evangelism and Renewal Advocate for the Group for Evangelism and Renewal in the URC.
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