I have laughed that at Waypoint, I often experience “method”-preaching as I prepare to deliver a message. One Sunday, I was preaching about abandonment, the same week that a core family was telling me they were leaving the church. Another Sunday, I was preaching about money, and a check I needed was delayed.
So, this non-snow snow cancellation Sunday could be God’s way of messing with me. Keith had to remind me that I am not in control of the weather, nor Queens’ facility management. I am trapped.
Which coincides nicely, because we were prepared to launch a series on the book of Philippians called “How to Stay Rooted in Rough Times.” This letter was written while Paul was trapped under home arrest in Rome, while he longed to be with the church he started in Philippi.
As I translated and prepared the passage, I came to this line: “As God is my witness, I long for you with all the affection of Jesus Christ. It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more.” Those words of Paul’s resound as my prayer for Waypoint.
The image of Paul trapped in Rome while longing for the people with whom he has gotten to share life demonstrates to me the longing of a pastor’s heart. It frustrates me not to have corporate worship, because I long to be with my friends and family of faith so we can share in God’s abounding love.
The Big Idea of today’s message was going to be that Paul calls the entire church “The Saints.” As each one of us–from the infants in the nursery, to the elders and deacons–are partners in this Gospel. Saints are not a select few of holy rollers, but each one of us filled by Christ.
The Church is never supposed to be a place we attend; it is a mission we participate in.
So God had to mess with my desire for control to remind me of our mission. If Waypoint is true to our mission that we are less interested in showing up on Sunday than in equipping all the saints to see God at work throughout the week, then this “hiccup” in the worship calendar is an opportunity for the people of Waypoint to join Paul as “partners in this Gospel.”
As I prayed this week, each time I came across “you” in this scripture I inserted the names of people of Waypoint…your name.
So this morning whether you are at worship at another church, recovering from a cold, staying at home, angry that you drove over Queens to find the doors locked, at Mugs Coffee, or Brueggers Bagels, or serving food at Urban Ministry, or reading this blog entry hear Paul’s prayer from prison that is my prayer for you this Sunday:
“Grace to you, [your name], and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, [your name], always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all participants with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.
For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for all the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”
The first way we stayed rooted in rough times is realizing our longings to be with one another as partners in this mission.
Thanks Be to God.
So where have you seen God working? Where do you need Him to work?