This morning's passage is from a letter from the apostle Paul to the Christians gathered in the city of Philippi. For several weeks we have been exploring the themes of this letter: joy, gratitude, unity, humble love, righteousness. This morning is part two of the Scripture we looked at together last week. If you missed it, that's OK. We're going to read the whole passage with last week's verses to hear the progression of Paul's thoughts. As this letter builds in logic and intensity, these Scriptures are the high point.
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This morning we continue with our series studying the letter from the apostle Paul to the Christians gathered in the city of Philippi. As I have mentioned, this was not a church comprised of Jewish Christians, but of non-Jewish or Gentile Christians, people who did not grow up following Jewish laws. Ironically, Paul is in prison but he's writing to encourage them! In this letter he encourages them to choose joy regardless of their circumstances. He invites them to transcend their differences by being like-minded in their commitment to Jesus as Lord.
Our guest preacher today is Reverend Gwen Thomas, an avowed Liberation Theologian and Womanist. She is ordained by the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries and licensed in United Church of Christ. Gwen serves as an associate minister at Rehoboth Fellowship Atlanta UCC. At Rehoboth, Gwen is a part of the Worship Planning Team. She also facilitates leadership development training. Additionally, Gwen is the former Conference Moderator and ONA (Open and Affirming) consultant for the Southeast Conference of the United Church of Christ.
This morning we're taking a quick break from our series on Philippians to explore the passage that goes with today's celebration of Pentecost. We're heading back to the book of Acts where we spent a few weeks considering how we can be the church in the world now. All of those great stories that we heard a few weeks ago were sparked by the story we are going to hear this morning. It's the story of when the followers of Jesus are filled with the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues.
We continue this week with a series on the apostle Paul's letter to the church in the very Roman city of Philippi. We think this church was mostly made of Gentile converts because this letter really doesn't contain any Jewish imagery or Old Testament references. This is a letter of consolation, written to help the church learn how to have joy in all circumstances. Last week we talked about how the healthiest practice of our faith is a practice of interdependence.
This week we begin a six week series on the short book of Philippians. Sometime in the next week, I encourage you to sit down and read this book for yourselves as a refresher, and then bring your Bibles with you on Sunday morning. This is a letter written by the traveling evangelist Paul to the Christians in the city of Philippi. If you remember from a few weeks ago that church was founded by a woman named Lydia who heard Paul and his companion Silas sharing the good news of God's love.
BIG IDEA: When we live as part of the Body of Christ, there is no difference between our worship and our service. While our worship may feel deeply personal and meaningful, what I believe the text is suggesting to us this morning is that our service can be equally as life-giving as our worship.
This morning we begin a six-week series on the book of Romans. Perhaps no book in the whole Bible has been as influential and as controversial as Romans. And the same goes for its author, the Apostle Paul. Most people either love him or hate him. Guess what? As always, black and white answers are too easy. First of all the apostle Paul was a human being just like all of us. He is not just one thing. He has strengths and he has flaws. His theology, especially his expectation of Christ's return, evolves throughout his writing. He was a deeply religious and observant Jewish man, and a flame-throwing reformer. He wrote at least seven books of the New Testament, and as many as six more were written in his name by people who learned from him. Romans is one of his latest letters and there's a few important things to keep in mind as we study it. The first one is that at this point, nobody had heard of Christianity, including Paul.