From the Epistle of the Joy of the Lord--II


Philippians 1:6-7

6: And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
7: It is right for me to feel thus about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.

Paul, it seems, writes through time. I need to take his words personally and to internalize their relevance for me today. The letter to the Philippians is the perfect place to start doing this. I can imagine myself in one of the congregations, hearing rather than the usual Sunday Sermon, a letter. We do this often today with the Bishop's appeal. But imagine that you are sitting in the Church and a letter from a dear friend who has been whisked off to who knows what fate arrives. Imagine the excitement as you await to hear what it was that he said in the letter. And then, it is read. Right away you hear these words.

"I am sure that he who began a good work in you will see it to completion in the day of Jesus Christ." What a thrill it sends through you. God who has touched me will see to it that his touch does not go unregarded. He who began a good work in me will see it through. Admittedly this may not be without trial on my part. Nevertheless, I will be able to see the Lord complete a work. This is a promise, a word from one I trust--a word from one of the Holy Ones of God--reliable guidance, sure solace in time of trial.

And then he says to me, "It is right for me to feel thus about you all." Why should this be? Why should it be right? And a heartbeat later, "Because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partaker with me of grace. . ." Paul himself holds me in his heart because I am a descendant of his spiritual Fatherhood. Unlike Peter who practiced most of his apostleship within the bounds of his own people (though indeed he served as Shepherd for all of the people gathered to God), Paul was the apostle to the nations that had not known of the God of Abraham and Isaac. All of those of us who are not aware of any Jewish ancestry are descendants of the teaching of Paul, we are his children, the legacy he left to the entire world. As his children, we are held in his prayers before God and loved as children are loved. And more than that, we are brothers and sisters. becasue we are all "partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel."

As a people we are a living defense and confirmation of the gospel. We work presently as the conscience of a nation and the conscience of the world. We are the "angels" (messengers) of God's permanent and abiding grace--of the gift that is given and shall not be withdrawn from humanity. We are defenders of the gospel in that we hold to its truths as best we can in our weak understanding. We cling to the gospel message and to the teachings of the Holy Catholic Church. These teachings started with these early messages of the Apostles.

Rejoice O Child of God,
Rejoice O Child of Paul,

for the love of God
is confirmed again in the heart of a Saint
whose life on Earth and in Heaven
was a life of prayer for us.

His words echo
in the heart, in the world,
and gather all together
in a great ball that rolls toward eternity,
to the encompassing love of God.

Rejoice in our brother,
Rejoice in our spiritual father,
Rejoice in the God He proclaims,
in the gospel he announces,
in the faith he defends,
in his continued and joyous prayer for those of us
as yet confined to Earth.

Rejoice O people of the Lord,

Rejoice in His holy saints who give us such hope.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on August 26, 2004 7:11 AM.

Seeking Angels Unaware was the previous entry in this blog.

Prayer and Praise--27 August 2004--St. Monica is the next entry in this blog.

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