Paul

Christ's Hands, My Hands

Christ's Hands, My Hands

And remember: not only are you partners in this together, you are partners with God. 
God is working within you, and God declares that this work begins now.
NOW is the right time. NOW is the day of salvation.
Right now, God is using you to make the world a more just place.
Right now, God is using you to make your community more compassionate and loving
Right now, God is calling you to be Christ’s hands and feet in the world. 
Open your hearts up! Partner with God in this work!

Do Not Lose Heart

Do Not Lose Heart

image from whatibeproject.com

What’s on the outside - our ‘outer nature’ Paul calls it – all of that wears away.  And someday it will be gone. “Our outer nature is wasting away,” he writes. Sooner or later, it happens to us all. 

“But we do not lose hope,” he says. Because the outside is not the source of our hope at all.

Shift your focus, he says; move from looking at the things that can be seen but on the things that can’t be seen. Look more deeply. Instead of looking at the outside, look within. Go deep within. That’s where the transformation happens.

Sharing Suffering, Sharing Joy, Sharing Christ

Sharing Suffering, Sharing Joy, Sharing Christ

What Paul hopes and prays for his beloved is that they will come to see their experience the same way, and that it will help them grow in love. Not “love” that’s sentimental or easy, but mature, and strong. One that faces head-in to the truth and has ”hard conversations,” a love that probes and discerns, that puts itself to the test in real-life situations and making moral choices in matters that count.” In other words, he prays that God will keep working in their lives, and they will let Christ do this work in them, so their lives will reflect the love of Christ. 

Philippians is full of joy, but it’s not an easy or facile word for them or for us. This isn’t, “Don’t worry, be happy.” This is down-and-dirty, real-life faith, written from the hardest of times and places. And it’s beautiful; it’s so beautiful. 

Next week we’ll look further at Philippians. If you haven’t read the whole letter yet, I encourage you to do it. It isn’t long – just a few pages. And if you have read it, then read it again. Let it sink in. Let it soak into your skin. Let it fill your heart. 

Let it fill your heart with joy. 

Finding Voice

Finding Voice

We live in a world just as confused and confusing as Paul’s was. And if we talk about our faith openly, we may get shot down, too. Christianity doesn’t have a lot of authority or credibility in some circles. Speaking faith to critics and skeptics can be scary. It’s just easier not to speak out.  

But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can find our voices, too; and our Confirmands have given us a head start. They have given us their words of faith, words that others can easily understand: about the One who sought out those who were considered lost, and loved them, the One who restored people’s hope, the One who showed just how far God’s love can go. They know the challenge ahead – for them, and for us - can we spread God’s Word by living and loving the way Jesus taught us?

With God’s help, we’ll find our voices, too. 

Draw the Circle Wide

Draw the Circle Wide

You know, I cringe every time Christianity is presented as racist, sexist, anti-Semitic… because at its core, it’s the opposite of all that ugliness. And yes, I am painfully aware that through the centuries the church has been all that and worse. But please don’t think that comes from the Bible, or – worse – from Jesus himself. Don’t ever believe it if someone tells you that’s what it means to be Christian.

Because what Christ envisioned – and what Paul tried to create – was this: that people would come from East and West and from North and South, and sit together at table in the kingdom of God.  

Because that’s how wide the circle is in God’s world.