Sunday’s Scripture ~ II Corinthians 6:1-13
This Sunday I have the privilege to be joined in worship leadership by one of my dearest friends, The Rev. Dan Dixon. Dan is the pastor serving Mt. Gilead UMC in Sharpsburg, GA. Brenda – Dan’s beautiful wife – will also be a guest at Reeves UMC on Sunday. I am so excited that they will be in town and that we will get to spend some much needed time together. They make my heart so happy!!
Throughout this week’s Scripture passage Paul uses the first person plural pronoun we – As we work together with him; we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain; we are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way. But who is this we?
Remember – although Paul is the writer – or attributed writer – of most of the New Testament passages, he was not working alone. He had associates. He had partners in ministry – together he and they were the helpmates of Christ in the Kingdom. His partners were men, women, Jews that became Christian, Gentiles that became Christian, folks that had similar walks and upbringing as him, and folks whose walks were as unknown to Paul’s as Adam’s house cat.
They worked near one another – as near as one another’s breath – and then they also worked with great distances between them. Whatever the circumstance, they served with joy. They embraced their commission as servants of God and servants in the Kingdom as Paul says, “through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labours, sleepless nights, and hunger (II Cor 6:4b-5). Whatever came their way they knew they had one another and they knew they had Christ.
As we continue serving in the Kingdom today I believe that we continue the legacy and live into the example of Paul and his friends, of Christ and the disciples. A life of ministry can be very isolating – in a vocation where you are surrounded by people, pastors can feel so alone. It is in these days that I am most thankful for my colleagues in ministry – both near and far – that I can call on for support. Dan is one of those colleagues. We met the first day of seminary – two nervous students that found themselves in an Old Testament Lecture wondering what the heck we had gotten ourselves into – but no matter what we got into – then and now – we have each other. We have Christ. We have incredibly supportive spouses and partners in ministry in Brenda and Andrew. We have mutual friends – like The Sara(h)s. We have friends known only to one of us and not the other and then we have friends that were only known to one of us that have become mutual. All of these friends, colleagues, beloved ones – they constitute my we – our we. And it is beautiful.
One of my favorite affirmations of faith is The Statement of Faith of The United Church of Canada.* It affirms, “We are not alone; we live in God’s world; we believe in God; we trust in God; we are called to be the church; we are not alone.”
That first person plural pronoun – it is intentional.
We are the servants of God. We are in this together. And it is beautiful.
Prayer: “We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing; he chastens and hastens his will to make known. The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing. Sing praises to his name; he forgets not his own. Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining, ordaining, maintaining, his kingdom divine; so from the beginning the fight we are winning; thou, Lord, wast at our side, all glory be thine. We all do extol thee, thou leader triumphant, and pray that thou still our defender wilt be. Let thy congregation escape tribulation; thy name be every praised! O Lord, make us free!”** Amen.
*”The Statement of Faith of The United Church of Canada,” The United Methodist Hymnal, 883.
**”We Gather Together,” The United Methodist Hymnal, 131.