A Daily Dose of Good News
Monday, September 28, 2020
Pastor Steve’s devotion is offered at https://youtu.be/KSgIP17a02g
A printer-friendly version of the devotion is available at DDGN 20200928
I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.
I want you to know, beloved, that what has happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to everyone else that my imprisonment is for Christ; and most of the brothers and sisters, having been made confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, dare to speak the word with greater boldness and without fear. (Philippians 1:3-14)
Absence makes the heart grow fonder?
Given the sentiment of Paul’s writing here
To the believers at Philippi,
He and they seem to be experiencing
One of the adages that often gets thrown around during a courtship
When circumstances take one person away from another for a period of time.
There’s the at least the promise of some comfort in saying:
Absences makes the heart grow fonder.
That is, sometimes when we miss those we whom love
Our bonds of love grows stronger.
And that seems to be the sentiment
That Paul is expressing to the Philippians.
As he sits in jail after having grown close with them in sharing the gospel,
He thinks of them often, misses them, and
Gives thanks to God for their enduring relationship in the gospel.
I’d venture to say you’re having the same experience
When it comes to your church relationships these days
And probably some family relationships as well.
Within the confines of the pandemic
Circumstances are keeping us away from loved ones.
And while email or letters like this one from Paul
Are great for staying in touch to some degree
And the modern technology of Zoom and FaceTime call
Add to visual element to those provisional engagement…
We even Facetimed a goddaughter’s eulogy from the west coast
At Julius Nemeth’s funeral last Saturday morning…
We’ve talked before how all that still isn’t the same as being there.
A sentiment that is validated the first time you do
Share the same space with a loved one after a long absence
From those outdoor birthday drive-by
To worship either safe distanced inside or outside.
How great it was to see even more old friends again yesterday
After having been apart from each other in worship for so long!
Friends, I know you give thanks to God
For the loved ones in your family and the church
Even and especially while circumstances of the pandemic are keeping you apart
And that absence is making the heart grow fonder.
And we are praying and working to cultivate that fondness
Even within the new circumstances around
In light of the wisdom from another adage common among courtships
Where one person needs to be away from the other:
If you love someone, set them free.
If they don’t come back, it was never meant to be.
To be sure, the nature and intimacy of our fondness for each other as a church
Is being transformed while we are limited
In the ways that we can share space together as a church.
The bonds of our fondness for the community of the church will be tested.
Like Paul though, who recognizes new opportunities for sharing in the gospel
As a result of his confinement in prison,
I too am confident that the Holy Spirit is working among us
To share the gospel in new and meaningful ways
That we wouldn’t have explored
If those circumstances had never occurred.
Thanks be to God then even now
For our hearts growing fonder for each other
And the new ministry that the Spirit is raising among us. Amen