~ From Our Pastor ~
I want you to know, beloved, that what has happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to everyone else that my imprisonment is for Christ; and most of the brothers and sisters, having been made confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, dare to speak the word with greater boldness and without fear. Some proclaim Christ from envy and rivalry, but other from goodwill. These proclaim Christ out of love, knowing that I have been put here for the defense of the gospel; the others proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but intending to increase my suffering in my imprisonment. What does it matter? Just this, that Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true; and in that I rejoice. Philippians 1:12-18
Dear Flock of the Shepherd of the Valley,
The group who studies Greek New Testament on Wednesday mornings is about to begin Paul’s letter to the Philippians. This is one of several letters he wrote from prison and it is also one of his most joyful. Paul has very little to correct them about, although he does throw in some unsolicited advice. His joy is in the fact that Christ is becoming made known. He doesn’t even mind that one’s motives may not be the purest when proclaiming Christ. He is just happy that word is getting out! I guess he falls in the “all publicity is good publicity” camp.
Paul’s joy can encourage us to be publicists for Christ. I hope his joy might be contagious! He doesn’t need to pick apart people’s motives or methods – as long as the story of Jesus and God’s unconditional love, salvation and forgiveness gets told, he’s thrilled! He wants everyone to be talking about this thing that happened – Jesus’ death and resurrection – and that it had such a profound effect on him that he’s willing to be in prison so others hear the story. And while he’s stuck in prison, he encourages those with passion for Jesus to gather as Church and continue to spread the word.
It feels like the Church needs some good PR these days. Our nation is embroiled in great and greater division. This division is no longer just differing opinions. It is escalating into violence, fueling hatred, perpetuating the ways we don’t see one another as fully human. Too often the Church is silent about the state of the world and the actions of those creating conflict. Where is our proclamation of Christ?
While I pray that the Holy Spirit works in me on Sunday mornings to proclaim a message of good news to those gathered, this proclamation is not meant to stop there. I know many of you have a bit of fear and timidity in putting your faith out there. That’s ok. As Grace said while waiting for the bus on her first day of first grade, “I’m so excited, and a little scared and a little sad that I won’t see you.”
One of the goals for this year that the council identified based on listening to the congregation is to learn how to share our faith and invite others into this community. We are excited about doing these things, but a little scared. Our motives may differ, but let’s still try together and rejoice with Paul!