Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 I thank my God every time I remember you, 4 constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, 5 because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. 7 It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. 9 And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight 10 to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, 11 having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.
I am focusing on THANKSGIVING this week of thanksgiving.
It was my first year serving that church – just eight or nine months into my call. Tragedy struck our community. A prominent member of our congregation died in head-on collision. Someone went left of center on a two-lane road, and she was killed.
She was the church organist, and was very active in many areas of ministry, including Sunday School and the annual CROP Walk to name a couple. She was one of those quiet saints who never wanted to be up front, but always lifted up others to shine. Her three kids, all teenagers at the time, were active in school and church. Her husband would take over the role of both parents, doing his best to fill the void in the midst of their sorrow and loss.
The shock of sudden loss hit all of us. As the pastor of this flock, I did what I could to offer prayer and comfort and support in that time of loss. I visited with the family and made plans for the funeral while we still were overwhelmed by the shock of what had happened.
We gathered a few days later as the church, the Body of Christ, to mourn, but not as people without hope. We came together to support one another, to cry with each other, to hear the word of the sure and certain hope we have in Jesus Christ. We sang together, remembering how our sister had led us in singing just a few days before. There are many vivid memories I have of that service, and of the days before and after.
One memory for which I was grateful at the time and for which I continue to be grateful, were words shared by a member of the church. I don’t remember who it was, but I remember what was said: “Pastor, we are praying for you too.”
We are praying for you.
These words were comfort and blessing, power and balm. To know that in that moment, in that time, I was lifted in prayer was a gift I didn’t expect, but one I will forever treasure. Those simple words were a reminder of who I am, who WE are, and whose we are. As our governor has said several times the past few days, “We are in this together.” And God is with us.
In Paul and Timothy’s letter to the church in Philippi, Paul shares that he is lifting the people in daily prayer. Reread these words, and take notice of the things for which Paul prays. These include
I encourage you to pray for each other today. That prayer may be a simple as “Thank you God for …”
And if you are able, and can offer it in such a way that doesn’t sound like you are boasting or bragging, let others know that you are praying for them.
Let us pray:
Dear God, Thank you God for your Son. Thank you for his great love for us, and the greatest gift he offers. Thank you, God for those I love, and for those who love me. Thank you for my family. Thank you for my neighbors. Thank you for those who care for my family members, in schools, care facilities, churches and more. Thank you. May we remember those who journey with us. In Jesus name we pray.