Change is in the air! As I was walking to church yesterday (Wednesday) morning, I was greeted with a very pleasant reality. The air had a bit of a bite to it. The breeze had an edge to it. The crispness of the morning could only mean one thing…fall was on the way!
I love fall. I love all the seasonal changes that we get to enjoy and experience living here in Minnesota, but fall might be my favorite one. Not only do we get to kiss the hot and humid days of summer goodbye, but we also get to enjoy the fall colors of the changing trees; the return of football; bonfires, apple-picking, and hot cider; trading in the shorts for pants; and a new ministry year at Oak Hill.
As we enter this Kick-off Sunday at Oak Hill, we will be reminded again of just how wonderful it is to be a part of a church family. We get to walk through life together and experience it as One Body as we encourage one another. Whether it’s through Sunday School, KidZone, Little Lights, Confirmation, a small group, a Bible study, a gathering, or an event, we get to be around each other in ways that bring some much-needed enrichment to our lives.
It’s great to be in relationship with others. Each of us needs that bond of community that helps guide, strengthen, and shape our world in positive and uplifting ways. I get to experience that being in relationship with you all the time! We need each other because God did not intend for us to go through life on our own. He designed us to crave relationships. He created us to want to be with others. He instilled in us a need to be in community with Him.
This week, we will be looking at a book of the Bible that you may not have spent much time in, but it speaks powerfully of how God’s Word changes our view of relationships. The Apostle Paul’s letter to his friend, Philemon, is one of the shortest books in the entire Bible and it is quite personal. We can easily skip or gloss over this letter because we may wonder about its significance or relevancy to our situations and circumstances today. But God’s Word always speaks volumes into our everyday lives and the book of Philemon is no different.
In Philemon, Paul is encouraging his friend to see those around him through the lens of the Gospel. Just as God had radically accepted Philemon and given him grace, so too should Philemon, and us today, extend that same hand of friendship to our brothers and sisters of humanity.
The book of Philemon helps us see ourselves in our interactions with other people…in perhaps the broken relationships that we might have with friends or family. It helps shape our viewpoint of those outside of our close, tight-knit circles and see them as God sees us. It challenges how we relate to the people around us who have offended or hurt us, and it invites us to see the power of the Gospel all over again.
May each of us be reminded every day of the promises of God that claim us and call us to be His own. And may we each be given eyes to see others in ways that have been transformed by His Good News.
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Pastor Ben Bigaouette