It being the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible I thought we should have at least one reading this year in that version. I happened to read today’s reading in the KJV and thought that this would be a good choice so here it is:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:3-9 (KJV)
What a beautiful passage from St Peter. My favourite verse is verse 8:
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
We have not seen Christ but we love Him. There is almost a wonder in Peter’s voice here, I think, as of course he saw and knew Jesus personally. He is in awe at the joy felt by those he has preached to and who have come to know Jesus for themselves by the Spirit. Why have we got this inexpressible joy? It’s because we know we are being saved – the goal or reason for our faith – our belief that Christ died for our sins and we are saved.
There is some hint again about difficulty and waiting. We have had those themes in our readings already. Peter uses the image of gold being refined. Not a pleasant or soft process, it’s a brutal and harsh one – but a process that results in beauty.
It makes me wonder whether Peter ever lived near a smithy and watched the gold being refined himself. Of course, the image has even more gruesome poignancy when you consider those Christians who were persecuted for their faith by the Romans. But after the trial comes the joy. After the sadness comes the joy.
This is the Christian message:
It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming!
I’ll leave you with this wonderful tale from Tony Campolo which is the place I got this phrase from. You may not have time to listen to this now but it is really worth hearing (the video is 6 minutes long).