Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
While many of Paul’s letters are incidental messages to specific people about specific problems, there is lots of advice for a healthy Church that we can look to as we seek to BE the Church this month and beyond.
In the book of Acts we read that Lydia was part of the Church in Philippi, and was possibly a recipient of this letter from Paul. The last passage we read about Lydia, she was sheltering Paul and Silas from the Roman officials and encouraging them in her house. Now, in the first 11 lines of the epistle to the Philippians, we see how important the Church in Philippi was in encouraging and strengthening Paul and Timothy in their journey spreading the gospel.
Firstly, the believers in Philippi offered Paul just as much emotional support as he offered instruction to them. Paul thanks God for their prayers and their partnership. Their relationship seems to be mutually strengthening. If there is a practice from the early Church that we can adopt, praying for our spiritual leaders the way Lydia and the Philippians might be the most powerful. Today, let’s pray for the leaders in our church community.
Pray: Holy God, we pray for our pastoral staff. Give them strength and encouragement. Help us to support them so much that they are filled with joy whenever they think of us. Fill their hearts with compassion and their mouths with wisdom for the joint mission of our Church: to worship and serve you in thought, word, and deed. Amen.