Living and Loving on Borrowed Belief & Time
Tuesday, January 18
“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” (Philippians 1: 7).
As far as Paul sees it, his vindication directly relates to the vindication of the Church in the world. As far as Paul sees it, Philippian Christians make his joy complete and his case complete: if the saints remain of one mind and exhibit one love. I wonder whether the recipients of Paul’s letter, to the Church in Philippi, got this point? Like all early church services, what likely happened: the Bishop in Philippi received a letter (probably from Epaphroditus). He called for an assembly at the largest house among the disciples in the city, i.e., Lydia’s house. The congregation read scripture, sang hymns, prayed prayers and before they partake in communion together, the bishop read aloud the letter from the apostle. It has typical prison letter concerns. He gives them an update on his trial. He encourages them. He thanks them for their gifts to him. Then, acknowledging that while his spirit holds up, at times, he admits to feeling “hard pressed between remaining alive in the flesh or departing and being with Christ.” This is code language for the legal battle exhausts him. Nevertheless, he assures them that he will come to them again. I wonder if the recipients of this letter got what Paul was trying to say? Did they understand that when he calls them to ‘live life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ...[He says]… this is evidence’: he’s offering up the Church in Philippi as his exhibit. That is why he urges them to “be of the same mind in the Lord: having the same love.” Yes, Paul’s vindication is implied in the vindication of the Christ community. I wonder if those early recipients got this point? I wonder did they recognize that the proper witness of the Christian community served both Paul’s hope for acquittal and, paradoxically, his need for acquittal.
Write about the moments of worship that you feel resonate the most with you, e.g., the gathering, the singing, the reading of Scriptures, the prayers, the preaching, the communion.
What enduring structures of worship are permanent over time and what can we revise to meet the longings of the times in which we live.
Almighty God, who pours out on all who desire it the spirit of grace and of supplication: deliver us, when we draw near to you, from coldness of heart and wanderings of mind, that with steadfast thoughts and kindled affections we may worship you in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Revisit selections from Stride Toward Freedom by Martin Luther King, Jr.