Friday, December 3, 2021

Readings:
Luke 1:68-79 
Malachi 3:13-18

Philippians 1:18-26
 
18 What does it matter? Just this, that Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true; and in that I rejoice.
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance. 20 It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be put to shame in any way, but that by my speaking with all boldness, Christ will be exalted now as always in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which I prefer. 23 I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; 24 but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. 25 Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, 26 so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.

Likely written from prison, Paul’s letter to the “church” at Philippi is as intimate of a letter as you will find in the Bible. It is dripping with the sweetness of gratitude. Paul is grateful for the love and support of the Philippians. He even expresses great gratitude in spite of being imprisoned and believes his suffering actually serves to advance the Gospel, the good news of Jesus’s life, death and resurrection. Content even with some people proclaiming that good news out of “impure” motives doesn’t seem to dampen the sweetness of Paul’s mood in this letter.

Paul’s only dilemma is whether he is ready to die in prison, for the sake of the Gospel, or continue to live so that he can continue to communicate with the church, or actually visit again if he gets out of prison.

How do you feel about dying? I’ve laughed at the old line, “Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die to get there.” We are focusing on the theme of Hope this Advent. Hope is that sense that even death is going to be good as it means we will experience the fullness of God’s presence. But, until we die, while there’s still work to do, we offer messages of encouragement, love is offered and shared, and hope is that which keeps us going. May the sweetness of the gratitude shared between Paul and the Philippians continue to guide our response to Jesus and to one another.

Paul B. Thompson
Senior Pastor, Huntersville UMC
14005 Stumptown Rd.
Huntersville, NC 28078
(704) 875-1156
3910 North Highway 16
Denver, NC 28037