Lectionary Year A
May 12, 2002
1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11



These two paragraphs, as the NRSV presents them, bring caution and encouragement to those they addresses. The author(s) seem to have great sympathy with those they write. They identify with the troubles, temptations, threats, sufferings their addressees must have or might eventually have. These paragraphs are quite theological; they declare God's goodness and Christ's passion and glory. Several imperatives appear to lead the recipients of these lines into and through their faith development. Compassion, conviction, and sensitivity are all couched in a theme of love and understanding. Grammatical complexity formats these paragraphs as it does all of 1 Peter. The image of the roaring lion in 5:8 might prove as necessary as the seemingly intrusion of Jesus' descending into the underworld and Noah building the ark did in 3:19f.


* How can one be not surprised at a fiery ordeal taking place?
* Why do believers need testing? Who grades the papers?
* Is rejoicing really possible, let alone recommended, in suffering and that with Christ?
* Do adversaries really prowl around looking to devour the righteous, then as now?
* My brothers and sisters in many, too many, other parts of the kosmos suffer far in excess of any suffering I ever endure. If I never suffer, will God ever restore, support, strengthen and establish me?
* Did first and/or second century Christians read/hear these sentences and sentiments with increasing hope, or what?
* No question, we, here and now, today, ascribe power and even glory, too, to God. Did first and/or second century Christians? Maybe not enough of the latter, just as not enough of the former.


While the whole of 1 Peter seems to be a catechism for infantile Christians, this week's passage might have a thesis, antithesis, synthesis approach. The thesis is God's care and Christ's passion. The antithesis is humans' tendencies to be surprised, to evaluate realities as "strange", to suffer anxieties, though only for a brief period. The synthesis is in gladness and shouts of joy, getting restored, supported, strengthened and established - all by God, whom we grant dominion. That might preach. So, so far it seems to be a matter of application for this preacher.

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