Near the Cross: Partnership, Community, and the Cross

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Philippians 1:1-30.

Paul’s letter to the Philippians begins with three of my favorite verses of Scripture. The Apostle prays,

I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ (Phil 1:3-6).

In these and following verses Paul expresses gratitude to God and thanks to the Philippians for partnering with him through supporting his work. Paul repeats the word all in these verses, taking care to emphasize the communal effort that made flesh – made real – made known what God was doing among them.

The result of their partnership? Joy.

And that is a gift of God that will neither tarnish nor fade.

Last Sunday we concluded our Vision 20/20 Series. This Sunday we begin our Lenten Sermon Series based on reflections from Bishop Ken Carter’s book Near the Cross. Today (Wednesday, February 26) we will gather at 7pm in the worship center for a Service of Ashes. I believe it is fitting for the South Shore UMC Family to seal our Vision Study and cross the threshold to the Season of Lent with a litany – meaning a series of prayer petitions – affirming our covenant of service as United Methodists to the world, for the world, and with the world through the power and grace of Jesus Christ our Lord so that the world – so that we! – will indeed experience transformation. Our partnering together in the Lord’s work is how we live into – declare relevant! – and make present the legacy of the foremothers and forefathers of our faith. We are each not called to do all the parts. God calls us in faith – stirs us in our hearts – to do our part. And when we each do our part, together, all the parts are fulfilled – and nothing and no one is in need.

Thanks be to God.

Let us pray.

In covenant with God and each other, we affirm our unity in Christ. We will take faithful steps to live as a worldwide church in our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

In covenant with God and each other, we commit ourselves to be in ministry with all people. In faithfulness to the gospel, we will cross boundaries of language, culture, social or economic status as we grow in mutual love and trust.

In covenant with God and each other, we participate in God’s mission as partners in ministry. We share our God-given gifts, experiences, and resources recognizing that they are of equal value, whether spiritual, financial, or missional.

In covenant with God and each other, we commit ourselves to full equality. We uphold equity and accountability in our relationships, structures, and responsibilities for the denomination.

In covenant with God and each other, we enter afresh into a relationship of mutuality. With God’s grace, we joyfully live out our world-wide connection in our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.*

Amen.

*¶125 BOD 2016.

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