Being disbursed is a familiar feeling now. We're been spread out, quarantined, socially distanced, and we can't gather together.
Hundreds of years before Christ, God's people, the Jews were disbursed into the surrounding nations. Some lived in exile in Assyria, some in Egypt, some elsewhere. They were spread out and kept from gathering together.
Since Christ too, God's people are spread out to all the corners of the globe. Our citizenship is in the kingdom of God, but we live in all the countries of the earth.
But God promises that, as he extended his hand to bring the Jews back to the promised land 450 years before Christ, he "will extend his hand yet a second time" to gather his people forever. The "root of Jesse" - the new king in David's line - will be a beacon to everyone, and where he dwells, God's people will experience God's glory.
This is none other than Christ. God gathered us together once, and though we must practice social distancing now, God will gather us together once again.
Lord, we are disbursed. Extend your hand to recover us, to gather us together. Amen
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,
from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,
that according to the riches of his glory
he may grant you to be strengthened with power
through his Spirit in your inner being,
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith -
that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
may have strength to comprehend with all the saints
what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,
that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
In English classes growing up, I often ran into trouble for run-on sentences. But I kept writing sentences that, even if they weren't run-ons, just went way too long. "Don't have a sentence more than two lines", they said. Mine were usually pushing five lines.
I knew I wasn't doing it right. I knew this was a problem. They're not supposed to be that long! And then I read a novel by one my favorite authors, Michael Chabon, and half-way through a chapter, I began to notice something. There hadn't been a period yet.
A twelve page chapter was entirely one sentence.
I still don't think that's the best way to write or speak. It made the chapter awkward to read. But I could still understand what it meant, even if it sounded a little rambling.
Paul does something similar in Ephesians 3. It's not twelve pages, but if I were editor, I would circle it with a note, "Too long. Break up into multiple sentences." But praise God, he doesn't need me to edit his scriptures. Maybe the rambling is part of the point.
When we bow our knees before the Father, we don't need to be eloquent or precise. We don't need to say just the right words, or keep talking until we hit the magic phrase that makes God do what we want.
We pray that the Holy Spirit would give us inward strength, that Christ would dwell in our hearts through faith. We look to the magnificence of God, and pray that we would comprehend the love of Christ even though it's so great that it's beyond knowing.
Father, we bow our knees before you and pray that we would be filled with your fullness. We pray that we would be rooted and grounded in your love. Amen.