Thought for the Day: This is the opening of our text for tomorrow. Scholars have debated over the language of “bishops and deacons,” as that was not terminology used in the life of the church at the time of the Apostle Paul. So was it a later addition to Paul’s letter? Maybe, but the Greek words we translate as bishop and deacon are not necessarily church-specific terms. The word we translate as bishop was a common word in the culture, used to describe someone who had oversight (overseer). The word deacon was also a common term in the culture, used to describe someone who served food at a table. We might call this person a waiter. Maybe we should read it as Paul simply describing himself as a servant of Christ Jesus, along side all the many good people who, using whatever gifts they had, were serving the church in Philippi. I don’t believe Paul was real interested in institutional structure and bureaucratic systems where people were fighting their way up the organizational ladder. Jesus did not react well when a few of his disciples were arguing over special placement in the Kingdom. They were missing the point. As a paid employee of the church, this is a real point of tension for me. The church should never be for my purpose, but God’s purpose. Yet as one who depends on the church for a salary, I am always trying to be mindful of who I am wanting the church to serve. This is probably why Paul never gave up his job as one who worked with leather (tent maker).
Prayer: Your Spirit called forth the church, O Lord, and its mission was so much greater than any one person. Let us bring our gifts, not to jockey for special placement within the institution, but to continue the work of transforming the world. Amen.
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