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!