Let us strive, not only for heaven, but towards heaven. We don’t have to earn the prize; we don’t have to be paralysed by the past – let’s journey together, sharing our pain, struggles – and joy.
Paul, Timothy and Epaphroditus showed in their own lives that it is possible to follow Jesus’ example – however imperfectly, we still need to try.
As we live like Jesus in humble, obedient service, as we work out what God is working in us, so together we will shine like stars shine in the night sky. And other people will see and want the one who makes us shine: Jesus Christ.
We aren’t perfect, so our deep unity in Christ doesn’t always make it to the surface. So Paul teaches: be what you are, let the truth of who you are in Christ be visible in your behaviour: that is what it means to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.
It takes courage to share our faith, to let Jesus shine through the cracks. But think about this: without being put in prison, with all that time on his hands, Paul doesn’t write half as many letters, which are part of the bedrock of the church. His broken jar; Christ’s treasure within.
Finding joy in the journey begins with abounding in love – but not just any love: the love of Jesus Christ.
I promise you, I’m not going to go charging off on my own. My number one priority is to pray – on my own, and with you. Instead of hitting the ground running - taking over all the various different things that could be done - I’m going to hit the ground kneeling.
True faith means keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus; and we do that through prayer. When we pray, we refocus ourselves on Jesus, standing before us, arm outstretched, saying, ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid. Come.’
Who am I? This is who I am. I am the one who was there when the world was made. My Father made all things through me and for me.
Baptism is all about God saying, ‘Welcome, welcome home.’ It’s a symbol for the turning back to God that we all have to do, every day.