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.
Sermon Audio Downloads
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.
Here’s a little pop quiz to get us started: I’m going to give you a list of people and you can guess what they have in common. Ready? Babe Ruth, Larry Bird, President Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Mozart, Bill Gates, Helen Keller, Joan of Arc, Mark Twain. They were all left-handed!Where are my lefties in the room this morning? Come on, southpaws. Left hands up and proud. I’m so glad you came to church today, because this is your day. Usually phrases having to do with leftiness are not compliments. You have two left feet means you’re clumsy.
This morning as we continue through our discussion of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, we are going to hear to some verses that may get some us in areas where we feel sensitive. They might remind us of harsh things we've heard in church in the past, or times when God has not been presented as loving. But the fact that other people have used these texts poorly is not a reason for us to ignore them. This is our sacred text, and we are not afraid of what's in here. When the Bible gets difficult, it is tempting to pull out all the reasons that it might not speak to our culture. For example, the Bible doesn’t account for the range of gender roles, sexual identity and expression that we now understand exists in the world. Our topics for this morning—adultery, marriage, divorce and making promises—were different in the ancient world. And this is important for us to realize, especially because it can keep us from using the Bible against other people.