Being immersed in Ephesians (@minidvr)

http://www.seedresources.com/view/images/pauls_letter_to_the_ephesians

http://www.seedresources.com/view/images/pauls_letter_to_the_ephesians

I am currently engaged with a Course being run at @CWR at Farnham the foundation of which is Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. This letter is a powerful one and is being used to highlight how pastoral care is directly derived and founded in scripture, the Gospels and the teaching of the Apostles, particularly Paul.

Being immersed in any part of the bible can be fascinating and productive, particularly as we seek to reinterpret it’s message in the context of our lives and of those around us. When we are doing it for a purpose where we know that our application of this learning will change our outlook and our way of doing things, in this case, pastoral care,  it becomes something of beauty and awe founded in Love.

The theologian teaching sharing their insights and inviting us to share our own ideas and insights stretches our imagination. We seek to place ourselves in those situations or to reflect on situations we have experienced where having this foundation would have had a significant impact on decisions we made at the time.

So, what about Ephesians?

“Ephesians is about the Christian formation of human character”.[1][2]

This bold statement is made by CWR, and from evidence of other sources I have looked at, seems to me to be one that is true. Of course, many of Paul’s letters can be cross referenced with each other, the Gospels and the Old Testament, because Paul is nothing if not consistent in his teaching. He draws together historic threads  of scripture of God’s working with the world which predicted Jesus’ Incarnation and all that flowed from it.

I read Ephesians from the KJV, which seemed to me to express the letter, without to many later translations and interpretations to confuse (or enlighten) me.  Four things that I wrote on my copy were ‘Identity,  Calling, Vocation and Walking’.

Identity: It seemed to me that Paul’s intention was evident.   He is ‘clearly identifying how Christians are formed and called by Jesus’ teaching to their vocation from Baptism which imprints an indelible ‘Christian Identity’ on them, which needs to be carefully nurtured to enable it to grow and to empower them as part of the ‘Priest Hood of Believers’ [3]

Calling: In this context, calling seems to reflect that individuals in the early church heard the word of God and the Gospels and teaching were called to become members of the body of Christ.   John the Baptist baptised with Water, while Jesus was baptised with water and the Holy Spirit[4]. This is the baptism of all believers. which imprints the calling upon all who are baptised.  Baptism gives to us ‘the spirit of wisdom and revelation to the knowledge of him  ‘The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power.  Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.  Far above all principality, and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come[5].  This teaching echoes Psalm 8[6].

Vocation:  For me that calling confirms a Vocation as a Christian to discipleship.  Discipleship being to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.  Walking in his footsteps is perhaps the metaphor that I see in this.  By walking in the footsteps of Christ and the disciples we are formed to become Christlike, which is what our Christian character is destined to be.  “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children. And  in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and have given himself for an offering and a sacrifice to ‘God for a sweet smelling savour[7]and, “See that ye walk circumspectly (in Christ*), not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil[8]”. 

* (my paraphrase)

How does this Christian vocation relate to Pastoral Care?

It seems quite clear to me that our Christian Identity, Calling, Vocation and Walking in the footsteps of Christ is directly related  through his love for us all, our love and compassion for each other, to the health of the body of Christ, the Church and all of it’s members.

While not specifically spelt out in Ephesians, there are numerous references in scripture which form the basis for Paul’s teaching:

ŸWe are all made in the image of God. Every human being has dignity and deserves to be treated with the greatest respect[9]

We are relational beings. We have a responsibility to others, their good as well as for ours.[10]

Pastoral care is an expression of the presence and working of the Kingdom of God. [11]

Pastoral care directly reflects the Glory of God through the care given. [12]

Pastoral care is directly related to Jesus’ second greatest commandment to love our neighbour as ourselves.[13]

Paul’s letters reflected this, particularly 1 Corinthians.

21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. 22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: 23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. 24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked. 25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.[14]

Conclusion:

Ephesians as a base document for Pastoral Care is clear.  There is many more verses I could quote, but I’m still in the process of learning about the depth and breadth of the related teaching.   I will return to this another time when the course is ended. 


[1]CWR Introduction to Ephesians as a Pastoral Care Document – December 2012.

[2]http://www.presbyterianireland.org/pdfs/CT_Biblical_Basis_for_Pastoral_Care.pdf accessed 26 Jan 2013

[3]http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2010/10/priesthood-of-believers, Peter Leithart, 29 Oct 2010, accessed 26 Jan 2013.

[4] 1 Cor: 12-13. KJV.

[5]Eph 17-21 KJV

[6]http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+8&version=KJV accessed 26 Jan 2012.

[7]Eph 5:1-2. KVJ.

[8]Eph 5:15-16, KJV

[9]Gen 1:26-27, Psalm 8, KJV.

[10]James 1:26:27; 2:14-17, KJV

[11]Matt 10:1-10, KJV

[12]1 Peter 4:7-11, KJV

[13]Matt 22:36-40, KJV

[14]I Cor 12:21-26, KJV

About Ernie Feasey

Anglican, Ex-Officer, trying to discern a vocation to Ordained Ministry