Friday, January 07 2022
“I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God (Philippians 1:3-11).
I am asking our entire parish to read, study, and inwardly digest, Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Our bible study is on Monday nights at 6:30 pm and Tuesday mornings at 11 am. We are using video from N. T. Wright and the book, Paul for Everyone: The Prison Letters. One of the themes of this letter is to live as a single community. Although many of us are facing immense struggles, Paul says that we can give thanksgiving and celebrate with joy. This week, we will all be reading Phil. 1:1-11. The passage speaks of “koinonia” or partnership. Living in Christ means following a path that brings together all sorts of folks. Paul had this deep love for the people of Philippi, who had become partners in God’s mission with him. They prayed for one another constantly and with one another when they could. At St. John’s we show a radical hospitality to all those who walk through our door or view our services online. Paul tells us that the one who put a good work in us will complete it on the “Day of the Lord.” We are asked to work together and pray together until Jesus returns. We are transformed by the grace of God into an image of Jesus Christ. This passage is a particular challenge because these followers were of different races, worldviews, economic means, and backgrounds. Yet they all agree to follow Christ, who fulfills the promises of the prophets by making the world right one person at a time. The followers are overflowing with the light (love) of Christ that they can now share in a dark world.
But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God (Isaiah 43:1-3).
“The Lord shall give strength to his people; the Lord shall give his people the blessing of peace” (Psalm 29:11).
God is with us during all our struggles during this seemingly never-ending pandemic. In the letter to the Philippians, Paul tells his followers that despite their suffering they can receive thanksgivings and joy through the love that they share with one another.
In Christ’s love,