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Letter From Pastor….. (from TLC - the Trinity Newsletter)

posted Jun 27, 2013, 8:20 AM by Jonathan Watt
Letter From Pastor….. (from TLC - the Trinity Newsletter)

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:1–11, ESV)

Dear Christian friends; When things are going well (and they seem to be going very well for us right now) it's easy to get focused on what we are doing right. After all, we think, God must be looking down at us and smiling quite brightly because church attendance is up, there are families with children, the budget is better than balanced, and the old scars and wounds and divisions in the church are out of sight. In the text St. Paul is speaking to a "successful" church. But notice how he doesn't point them to the things they should be doing for themselves. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Notice how he directs the congregation to consider others more than themselves. Not that the interests of the congregation shouldn't be taken into account, only that what the congregation does for "others" should be considered more significant. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. And then he points to the example of our Savior. He says to keep in mind especially what Jesus has done for us. That we have all that we have, not through the things that we do, but by God's grace. It is our Savior Jesus that puts us ahead of himself. He leaves the glory of the Father's side, to be born of a humble virgin, live as a humble human being, being found in human form, he humbled himself being obedient to God in our place. And then on the cross gives his life for you and me. With the punishment for our sin paid in full on the cross we have forgiveness, life and salvation.  It is the self giving of Jesus Christ that brings to us all the blessings of God. The blessings begin with the cross and ends with the cross. The cross is the content of our Witness. The cross is the reason for our Mercy. The cross is the thing that allows us to have Life Together. God, in mercy, forgives our sins because of the life, death on the cross, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the content of our witness. There is nothing more important that we can tell others. The proclamation of forgiveness is the ultimate counting others more significant than ourselves. The fact that Jesus gives this gift of forgiveness freely to us is the very reason that we care for others and show mercy. We were first shown mercy in Jesus Christ. We can only live together in unity (being of the same mind) in the forgiveness that Jesus offers us and that we then in turn offer to one another. And so as we consider what God would have us do in our community we are to focus on Christ. How best can the message of the cross be proclaimed? How best can we serve our neighbors in their need? How can we best live together that shows clearly Jesus and his great gift of forgiveness to us at the center? We have big decisions to make. It's nothing new. There have always been big decisions to make in this church and every other church. And we will not all agree on the ways that things should be done. But we are still to be of one mind. That doesn't mean that we all agree on exactly what to do. It does mean that we agree on what is at the center. It is Jesus Christ. It is the forgiveness he won for us and all people. It is the witness of this message in the place that God has placed us to bring it. It is the mercy of God shown in loving acts of kindness in the places that God has given us to bring it. It is our life together as an example of how forgiveness works.

 

~Pastor Watt

 

 

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