Make it Known

Sunday Reflections are short comments inspired by the preaching at Servant Church.

Paul is in prison for preaching the Gospel. He invites the early church to join him in devotion through prayer. He reminds us that we are devoted to God and that God is devoted to us; demonstrating a posture of dependence, of listening. And he essentially asks us to pray that more of what happened to get him in jail keep happening.

At the time, as now, many Christians ask, ‘How do we live under the empire and still obey God?’ Paul says that  we don’t have to work for it! We don’t have to struggle with what to do! The mystery is revealed; Jesus is how we know both what to do and who God is! And everyone needs to know! Jesus is both the treasure map and the treasure.

Paul asks for God to open a door for The Message; he insists that the Jesus movement must go on, with or without him.  This is on all of us, but God will open the door. The Colossians, like us, must have been scared. But Paul says, ‘Pray and ask God, He will do his part.’ What is our part? How will we pray? What is your part? How will you pray and how will you pray?

  • ‘Make the most of every opportunity.’
  • ‘Love people.’
  • ‘Don’t be boring.’
  • ‘Make grace your way of speech.’
  • ‘If you pray for Him to open doors, He will.’
  • ‘Life your life to make people ask the questions for which Jesus is the answer.’

Jesus is making Himself known through His people; where are we asking God to open doors; in our sending, going, eating, singing, serving, giving, sharing? Prayerfully, let us take up one of these. Our task is to create points of connection, to knock on doors both literally and figuratively, and to pray more. It’s God’s job to open doors, it’s our job to be salt.

Giving and Thanks

Paul is in Ephesus on house arrest. No food was provided. His friends send gifts, but the distance between them limited access. So, at the end of his Letter to the Phillipians, Paul issues his ‘Thank You Note.”

How can we give back more than just words on a page? Paul says, “Thanks, but really it’s a deposit in your account, it’s an offer pleasing to God.” Be content, through Him, Jesus Christ, the one who gives us strength. Paul is saying, ‘I’m glad you gave because that’s what it means to be connected.’

When is God’ presence real to us through others? How can we make God’s presence real to others?

Henry Nowan writes in The Spirituality of Fundraising, “we should become richer by giving.” Let giving be a joy, participating in a mission together, giving as rhythm, habit, what a privilege to be able to give!

Together in Christ we function as His body because of all that He has given us, how we share our life together. Not just giving money, but skills, time, etc.. Do more, be more creative, Kingdom Coop—the more we give, the more we have in Christ.

2 Corinthians 8:9
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”

What might an Epistle to Servant Church look like?

Where are we when we gather at church? We are at God’s school. We gather for the purpose of learning how to live and think in Godly ways, something we can only do effectively if we practice. We practice when to send and when to receive. We practice by eating and singing together, by serving humbly and giving generously. We practice resolving conflict, asking for (and offering) forgiveness.

Philippians 2:1-11 speaks of unity and of adapting our interests and behavior to one another.  When Paul spoke to this early church, he was writing to a community that was rather impressed with itself. Much like the UT ad campaign slogan, “What starts here changes the world,” the church in Philippi believed it could rest on its laurels. It believed that it had humble practice all wrapped up and ready to deliver a needy world.  But even as Paul wrote, this congregation was giving up hope in Christ, exercising violence toward its oppressors, and turning on itself.

To avoid that sort of mess, we at Servant Church must practice koinonia, what Eric calls deep partnership. We communicate; we share; we are all collaborating on a shared project.  And to do that effectively, Paul is saying we must be of one mind?  But that’s hard!  It didn’t come easily to the Philippians and it doesn’t to us. That we are addicted to our own desires is the essence of sin. So how do we grow this unity and humility?  God invites us to shape and undermine those desires by trying to have the same mindset as Jesus, who had every advantage but emptied himself out and even died for us. We should be content to live as the least important in society.  We should look up at God and not at how far we’ve come. And we should continue to look for ways to serve, always to serve.

The Heavenly Chorus

This past Sunday, our Musician-in-Residence, Richard Kentopp, spoke of God, music, The Ramones, Worship and most things in between. Yes, we heard an excerpt of The Ramones song, Sheena is a Punk Rocker,  in morning worship. This is a new church community.

Music connects, inspires, informs, embeds, challenges and provokes us. The fact that we sing together during our worship service is integrally connected to what it means to a part of Servant Church and Richard described much of the theology that goes into how he sees music in connection with our being an inviting, becoming, and demonstrating community of God.

Richard spoke intimately about his own vocation in ministry to draw people closer to God through music. To remind them that what we sing and how we sing it matters and central to the kind of community we are. Not that we sing on pitch, but that we sing from our hearts words that can change us and draw us into the Holy Trinity. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Movement, told people to sing lustily and with full heart. We do not follow a timid God and so should not sing timidly.

We form and are formed but what we do, how we act, how we see each other, how we see God, and the music in worship effects all of these.

Next week we will continue to look at the letters of Paul in new and vibrant ways. Join us!

Sound Persons Needed

Friends! Since our worship space is changing rapidly the Gentle Wolves, our house band, need some help running sound on Sunday mornings. You don’t have to be a sound whiz to help! All we need is for you to be a) willing to learn the basics, and b) willing to show up a little early on Sunday mornings (9:30). Email Richard if you are interested.