Posted on Thu, Feb 25, 2016
February 21, 2016
Second Sunday in Lent (Annual Meeting Sunday)
Text: Philippians 3:17-4:1
17 Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. 18 For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. 19 Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. 21 He will transform the body of our humiliation so that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself. 4:1 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.
I really like that we “insert” “frame” our annual meeting into our worship service. By doing so, we bring to our attention the most important thing we do as a Body of Christ… and I do not mean having meetings. Worship is the central activity we do, and everything we do is an offshoot, or inspired by worship.
Worship gives us our identity. Worship is when we do our very best, as human beings, to say thank-you for the unconditional love and forgiveness God showers upon us each and every day. It is not like building something, or on a hike, reading a book, or any other kind of activity. God is always with us, but worship is the time we specifically carve out of our busy schedules in order to do our very best to say, “Thank-you” to God for the gift that surpasses all understanding, Forgiveness, Hope and the Promise that God will be with us for all time.
In today’s letter to the Philippians, Paul exhorts the people to “imitate” him. He is not bragging or boasting in his wisdom, or even his faith, Paul is making a plea for the people to live according to the example given to us in Christ Jesus. Paul is writing to a small community that is in the middle of heavy Roman influence. If you visit this place you can see how Herod tried to “out Roman” the Romans; therefore, the faith of this little new church really stood out as a radical little cult that worshiped One unseen God, instead of the many deities that were imprisoned in stone sculptures all over the city. They worshiped Jesus who was killed in an all too familiar way, on a cross, and then proclaimed risen from the dead in the not too distant past. Their faith and new understanding of God’s amazing Grace, caused people to notice these “Christians,” or also known as “People of the Way.”
For Paul, standing out in the crowd, whether preaching to those who had ears to hear, or arguing with those who were seeking God, but may also be afraid that Paul may be right… and if Paul is right, the entire world will be changed, and their way of life, social power, and even source of income will be challenged… and therefore Paul was oftentimes just seen as a threat to normal society for preaching, teaching and arguing the truth; and therefore beaten, jailed or humiliated for his faith.
The people who reject Paul and his message miss out on all the blessings of faith, and in the end, they live the life they have chosen that is not in relationship with God, void of the joy, hope, and peace only God could provide. Therefore their god is whatever their belly or mind desires…
On the other hand, notice how Paul addresses the believers, 4:1 “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.”
He sees the blessing this small group brings to the world through their relationship with Jesus and His Gospel. By their worship, compassion, humility and sharing, they bring glory to God. Through their faith they have been transformed into God’s people with a new way of seeing, hearing, acting and relating to God’s world.
We are no different, and the same faith, hope, and love still abide so that we too can be transformed into God’s people each and everyday.
May the Lord continue bless Calvary by the Sea Lutheran Church on this day when we conduct our business of being faithful servants of the Amazing Grace bestowed on us each and everyday. Amen.
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