Faithful Paradox

Hear a short recap of the Sunday service:

Watch the 11 AM Celebration of the Holy Eucharist

Watch the 6 PM Community Eucharist

Father Ousley preached on February 7 and his sermon can be watched in the Facebook Live videos above.  Father Beddingfield’s remarks on the day follow here:  

One dictionary defines Paradox as “a statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet is perhaps true.”

If we say that “Less is more,” we’re speaking in paradoxical language.

In some contexts, faith itself can seem paradoxical. We speak of dying in order to rise; of doubt or despair leading to faith and hope.

Paradox, as a concept, in some ways, ran throughout the day at Holy Trinity on Sunday, February 7.

Father Ousley’s sermon primarily focused on the Epistle from 1 Corinthians 9:16-23, in which St. Paul speaks of the paradox of making himself a servant or slave, in order that he might be free. This is key to understanding Paul—so many of the aspects of his thinking or theology that seem counter cultural to liberal 21st century America were actually meant to allow people to live more freely in their 1st century context.

Some in our day might look at those of us to seek to follow Christ—the certain things we do and don’t do—and not understand that through Christian discipline, we experience freedom – freedom from having to keep up with our neighbor, freedom from having to own or do the latest thing, and freedom from bondage to whatever is the current slogan, mood, political or religious trend.

The word “religion” comes from the Latin, religare, meaning to tie—and so by tying ourselves to Christ, we’re free to love and live fully in God’s image.

In the Adult Education hour today, we began discussing the book Reaching Out by Henri Nouwen. Nouwen talks about the paradox of how coming to grips with the deep loneliness that is a part of the human experience can be transformed into what he calls solitude. And by embracing an inner solitude, we’re then better able to be in relationship with another person, with our families, and in community with all kinds of people.

Not everyone appreciates the paradoxes of our faith—some people need things to be black or white, one way or the other. But as Christ himself navigated the seemingly contradictory in his day, with his presence, we too, will have faith to move through darkness into light, through disappointment into hope, and even through death into eternal life.

Let us pray: Set us free, O God, from the bondage of our sins, and give us the liberty of that abundant life which you have made known to us in your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

About John F. Beddingfield

Rector of The Church of the Holy Trinity (Episcopal) in New York City on East 88th Street between 1st Ave and 2nd Ave.
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