This week we move out of Acts and into the Epistles, as we start to take a look at Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi. We will read from Chapter 1 this week, Chapter 2 next week and from Chapter 4 on Pentecost Sunday. You can read the 18 verses for this week here.  As always, our colleagues over at Working Preacher have provided a commentary and a podcast. Jenee over at Text This Week has some resources on the first verses of Philippians here.

As it happens I am not preaching at all this week as our Youth Group is doing the service. So rather than meditating on where I am going I find myself wondering where I might be tempted to go with these verses.

Remember when we used to write letters?

Part of it would be to talk about the form of a letter itself. In a world where relatively few people write letters anymore what do we think the purpose of a letter is? If he were around today would Paul use texts? Blogposts? Twitter? I don’t know as a whole sermon would build from there, but it might be a way into the sermon — why is Paul doing this?

So what does Paul have to say as he opens this letter? I tend to follow the WP commentary and believe it is an invitation to partnership. One of my common statements is that Christianity is a communal/community religion. We can’t be Christian in isolation but need to be part of a community — both for the good of the community and for our own good. Paul gives thanks for support from a community he is no longer is present with (but is still a part of?). Paul knows that there are others out there helping to do the work of spreading the Gospel.

One of the questions that is often asked on grant applications is about partnerships. Who else is working on this project? What other resources are you tapping into? I suspect granting agencies ask this to get a sense of how broadly-based a proposal is. Which is both a good thing and a bad thing I suppose. Sometimes we need to take the risk and strike out in a new direction trusting that the partners will follow. But often we are more comfortable taking the risky step when we know we are not alone.

Together

What would happen if every time we came up with a new ministry, or every time we evaluated our ongoing ministries, we asked who our (real or potential) partners in that ministry were? What would happen if we asked ourselves who else out there was helping to share and live the gospel? Would that change how we were the church?

Where is the Spirit leading you as you read Paul’s words this week?


Gord Waldie is an Ordained Minister in the United Church of Canada, currently in Northwestern Alberta. He shares his life with his partner and their four daughters and blogs (periodically) at Following Frodo or shares his “churchy-stuff” at Ministerial Mutterings.


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One thought on “Narrative Lectionary — Get By With A Little Help From my Friends Edition (Philippians 1:1-18a)

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