Text study on 2 Corinthians 13:11-13 and Matthew 28:16-20
Lectionary text for Holy Trinity, June 19, 2011
“Agree with one another, live in peace.” Those words from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians immediately challenge me. Oh, sure. How realistic is that?
I live out my vocation as a family-law attorney. Most of my work involves negotiating settlements in divorce and high-conflict custody cases. Agree with each other? Live in peace?! I don’t think so.
I suspect I am not the only person who raises an eyebrow at these words. Even if you spend your days doing something a little less contentious, we all know that living in total peace and harmony with our brothers and sisters can seem like pie in the sky. How is this possible?
This Sunday, we observe the unity of the Holy Trinity. The gospel reading contains the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” Again, a verse that makes us uneasy.
I imagine this will inspire more than one aside in pulpits across the country this week—something about ELCA members’ infamous reticence and how making disciples of all nations is not our strong suit. Yet, we are called to spread the gospel far and wide.
Live in harmony and spread the gospel. Impossible tasks for us to do alone. But look! Comforting words, at last: “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Strength through the promises
As a homesick preteen at my first sleep-away camp, I repeated this verse over and over to myself, knowing that even though I was away from my family and familiar surroundings, Jesus was with me. Always. There was nowhere I could go that was outside the embrace of God. The grace of Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit is with each of us.
Today’s texts are about past, present and future: what God has done for us, what God is doing for us — and how we participate in it even when that participation presents us with a challenge. God created our world from nothingness and created us from dust. God is with us always, continuing to create clean hearts in us, washing away in baptism the dirt and grime of sin. How are we to respond?
- How do we live out God’s call to make disciples?
- How might the unity of the Holy Trinity inspire us to live in unity with each other?
Elizabeth Drotning Hartwell is a lifelong Lutheran and practicing attorney. She holds degrees in English and religion from St. Olaf College and a law degree from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. Despite her deep devotion to Minnesota institutions of higher learning, Liz now resides in Albuquerque, N.M., with her husband, Seth, and 2-year-old daughter, Anna, where it is much warmer but no one ever serves Tater Tots hotdish.