Archive for September 11th, 2010

Philemon 1-2; 23

Verses 1 and 2:  Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,        To Philemon our beloved fellow worker and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house:

Verse 23:  Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers.

Notice how many fellow workers and brothers Paul names in this very short letter:  nine.  He also gives greetings to, “…the Church in your house”, which would mean even more!  As I earlier stated, notice the series of amazing  coincidences  of Philemon’s runaway slave, Onesimus found  himself in jail with the Apostle.  Coincidence?   A dear sister in a previous parish would always tell me, “Pastor, not coincidences but God-incidences.”  I think that works for Philemon…and for us as well.

We like to think in terms of  “networking”, or “network”, or how about “net work”, as in fishing net?  This work of the Lord’s is His Church and in that net to catch fish for Kingdom, and each has his or her part.  Another understanding of mission is “rescue mission”.  But notice throughout this short Epistle:   who does the finding?  The Lord and the Lord casts us forth in our daily lives.    The people Paul mentions have a part in the fabric of the net of His Church (see 1 Corinthians 12:   12-21) and each part is different yet works together according to His Word alone. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8: 28)

A rescue mission…our Good Shepherd seeking high and low for those perishing.  After 9/11 awe witnessed on television fireman and police and EMT seeking high and low, at peril to their lives, for those perishing in the World Trade towers.  They each had their vocation to do so.  “Onesimus Project” is a fairly good understanding of the Church being aware in prayer of the ways the Lord can use us  in our vocations for rescuing the least, the last and the lost.  Lost and found…yes, in the Lord we can be Onesimus, useful, more than slaves to our passions, brothers and sisters in Him Who died and rose and lives that we live. and so, “Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent,children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life…” (Phillippians 2:  14-16)

“Lord, made me a useful servant.  Thank you for my near and extended family in Christ.  Amen”  (Prayer in the footnotes for Philemon in The Lutheran Study Bible,  The Lutheran Study Bible: at Concordia Publishing House)

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