Sunday, February 07, 2010

Sunday recap 2/07/2010

What a great joy to hear of the upcoming marriage of two of our folks this morning. Lois Somerville and Mack Kirkland are going to tie the knot in July at New Hope. The congregation broke out into spontaneous applause. We distributed the flyers for the SBC "Buckets of Hope" help for Haiti too. Great idea and I know New Hope will step up to the challenge. We've got the annual New Hope chili cook-off coming up this Wednesday night too.  Should be a great week.

Today's music was marked by the debut of a new song "He Reigns".
Indescribable, Nothing But the Blood, He Reigns, and Grace Flows Down were our music today.

Today's message was based on Philippians 2:5-11 - this passage has been the source of many books. The theology is deep, but it's rare that we look at it from the point of view of the average Philippians at the time. Last week I spent a lot of time reading about the Roman caste system and their ideas about class, status, and honor. Phillipi was one of the cities in Asia that carried the same status as a city in Italy. As far as they were concerned they were Romans. I tried to give enough background for how they got that way.

So the lines between classes were rigid and inflexible. Everyone's goal was to move up the social ladder. It could happen if you completed military service, did something outstanding for the state, or just bought your way up the ladder of success. But it didn't happen often.

Into this walks the apostle Paul and his trusty sidekick Silas. From the beginning of his ministry there, he began to demolish the caste system and replace it with the love of brothers and sisters in Christ. Arrested and beaten for ending the slavery of one prophetess, he refuses to use his status as a Roman citizen, suffering as any common man or slave would have done. And yet when he writes to the church at Philippi he begins it with "slaves of Jesus Christ." Paul co-opted the same language that was used of Caesar and of Roman citizenship to outline a new way to relate to our fellow men and women.

Paul (under the inspiration and authority of the Holy Spirit, don't forget) then systematically demolishes their system by giving the vivid example of just what Jesus Christ did when he left heaven and "was found in fashion as a man." (Sometimes the KJV is just beautiful language.) The example of Christ's humility is a mandate for a different way to live, a different set of values, a different worldview. So how are we doing with that after 2000 years?

Not well.

We still have problems separating ourselves from the same sort of status symbols the Romans fell prey to. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit helped someone be delivered from that trap today.

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