Friday, September 23, 2011

Colossians 4: Paul's friends, my friends

I love the Body of Christ.

As I often say I write this blog for me and to me.  But I also enjoy sharing it with my brothers and sisters. After yesterday's post I received one big "Preach It!" from our dear Nazarene sister, Merilyn Clinger of Cambridge (or is it Waterville?) who also loves Paul's exhortation to choose obedience. I could almost hear her singing "Holiness Unto the Lord Is Our Watchword and Song"! I also heard from two brothers who played important roles in the two Christian bodies influential to my decision for Christ in 1973: Rev. Dick Lawson, at North Avenue Alliance Church, and Tim Steiner, at Bethel Christian Fellowship (the Jesus People commune just a block down College Street from City Hall Park, with the giant second-story sign that read "Jesus Saves!"). And last but not least, I heard from our sister Becky Graeter, Marmalade Maker. A lay preacher, she said about being mentioned yesterday as condiment provider for my gravity-prone breakfast:

"I wrote a message about toast falling off tables and the high percentage that it would land buttered side down.  Murphy's Law.  There was an physicist who conducted experiments about Murphy's law.  "Whatever can go wrong will go wrong"  and its corollary "in the worst possible way or at the worst possible time".   So the odds are high (over 62%) that they land buttered side down.  Tables are built 29-30 inches and there isn't enough room for  tipped piece of toast to make a full rotation before it hits the floor. This physicist AJ Matthews(he conducted experiments) says :The universe is designed against us.  Even when they took away the weight of the butter and just made a B with magic marker, toast land B side down. The article was written by Jason Zweig in the July 2002 issue of Money Magazine.  Anyway the scripture I used was Matthew11:16-19, 25-30.and Romans 7:15-25.  The message was we are living in an imperfect world but God will protect us, that we will be rescued from the body of death by God giving his only son. The title was "My Protector, My God"  It was well received."
Paul loved the Body of Christ, too (and presumably still does!). Colossians Four is one of his typical "Final Greetings" passage. Like Tennyson's Brook, it runneth on and on. (Q: What does it mean when a Baptist preacher says, "And now finally, brethren"? A: Absolutely nothing.) Like me, Paul has so many rich relationships in ministry and worship with believers of very different backgrounds that he has to recognize and recommend them to others. There is Tychicus, one of Paul's oft-mentioned messengers. Onesimus, surrendered from slavery by his master Philemon to serve with Paul in the ministry of freedom. Mark, the quitter whose failure drove a wedge between Type A Paul and Barnabas the Encourager, is now someone to be welcomed by the churches. And dear friend and doctor Luke, the blessed companion on Paul's missionary journeys and as the elegant, factually fastidious author of Luke-Acts, perhaps the greatest chronicler of the Greatest Story Ever Told.  And then finally, sadly, Demas, who later would desert the ministry "because he loved the world" (2 Timothy 4:10). We can only hope that Demas, like Mark, found restoration.
Paul being Paul, his friends aren't just a social club, they are co-laboring evangelists: "Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders, make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." The goal of THIS not-a-social club is to make the outsiders insiders.

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