Amy Jones,
Agape Coordinator
Dear God, we come to worship you today. 
We come to pray, and listen.
You always hear us. 
Help us to hear you. Amen
Scripture
Romans 16:1 - 16

1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae, 2 so that you may welcome her in the Lord as is fitting for the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a benefactor of many and of myself as well.

3 Greet Prisca and Aquila, who work with me in Christ Jesus, 4 and who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.  5 Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert in Asia for Christ.  6 Greet Mary, who has worked very hard among you. 
7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.  8 Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord.  9 Greet Urbanus, our co-worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys.  10 Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. 11 Greet my relative Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus.  12 Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord.  13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; and greet his mother - a mother to me also.  14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers and sisters who are with them.  15 Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them.  16 Greet one another with a holy kiss.  All the churches of Christ greet you.
Devotional
She gets just a couple of lines of mention in Paul’s letter to the Romans, but Phoebe has been very important in Christian history and tradition. As a deacon, Phoebe holds one of the first leadership positions in the church.

The word for deacon in Greek (diakonos) is a word for servant leadership. Even today, Catholic and Protestant traditions have leaders called “deacons.” In my tradition, deacons are one of two types of ordained leaders. In other traditions, a deacon may or may not be a clergy person, but the role of the deacon hasn’t changed. A deacon is someone who serves those with physical, spiritual, or emotional needs. They fight for justice for the oppressed and equitably share the resources of the church with those in need in the community.

Phoebe had to travel from Corinth to Rome to deliver Paul’s letter. Beyond that, she was also responsible for delivering Paul’s message. I imagine she met people along the way who may have heard the gospel message for the first time from her. I can also imagine that maybe the Romans asked her to explain parts of Paul’s letter that weren’t clear. 

The thing that stands out for me about Phoebe’s role is that way she connected people. Not only did she connect Paul with the Romans, but she connected people with the gospel message. With her help, the church started to become a more organized, interconnected body.

Deacons continue to function as the connective tissue of the church. As a deacon myself, I often feel that my job is to bridge cultures in our community and explain to the people of each culture how the other lives and where the resources are. I meet a lot of people, most of whom are not like me at all, and that is one of the most rewarding things about being a deacon. I hope that like Phoebe, my work helps to build a more interconnected and interdependent community. 

All of us have a bit of the spirit of Phoebe inside us. Each of us has something we can offer our community, some way we can bridge the body of Christ to something particular in the world. You are an important part of the work of the church. I hope you will prayerfully consider how your gifts can help your community become whole.

Prayer
Help us to see the ways we can connect with the needs of our community, Holy One. Ignite our passion for the people around us. Quiet the voice that tells us that the problems are too big and the work is too hard. Give us the courage to offer ourselves to serve. Amen
Amy Jones
Amy Jones, Agape Coordinator
Amy Jones our Agape Coordinator is an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church. In this tradition, deacons are ordained clergy who bridge the ministry of the church with the needs of the world, and vice versa. In more than 15 years of ministry, she has worked in churches, in children and family ministry, higher education, and nonprofits. In each setting, her focus has been on matching the resources of the church with the needs of the world. Agape Community Kitchen is exactly the type of work she was called to do. 

Amy can be reached by email at: agape@westfieldpc.org.
The Presbyterian Church in Westfield continues to burn as a light in the darkness as our community weathers this fearsome storm of illness. Our reach of care continues to extend far beyond our immediate borders. You can help us make a real impact in the lives of others by joining in our work through your time, your talents, and also in the fruits of your labors.
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