Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. [NRSV]
Two favorite words of many folks who sit in pews on Sunday mornings: “In Closing” This is context of Paul final letter to the church at Corinth.
In Paul’s farewell closing, to a congregation he had shared joys and sorrow as well as challenges and great strides, he makes a final request.
- Put things in order
- Remember the Example and Teaching
- Find common ground
- Live in peace
- Greet one another with a holy kiss.
Then he gives a final blessing: The Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God and the Communion with the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Knowing we remember the last thing and the first thing but forget things in the middle of the list, Think intentionally about Paul’s list:
Put things in God’s order.
Value What we have learned.
Let go of pride and control.
Value yourself and your part, but never out of balance with the Common Good.
Make Peace and live in it.
Seal it with a kiss and remind each other with a kiss every time to meet.
One of the good things about a move is that it forces you to put things in order. If there was a box I had not opened in four years I threw it away. There was only one of those this time.
Making a transition of home and work and relationships, banking, doctors, changing addresses, automatic billings, building new trusts, friendship and partnerships helps you grow. Can you image if we did things the opposite way, every several years, the preachers stayed at the churches and the members went to different churches and communities, not of their choice and not of their timing. I think it might true help bring some order and balance to our appointive system.
Get things in order, not for the sake of order, but for Moving Ahead..
Following My Teaching
The greatest compliment is to use what a teacher has taught you. Or better yet, to build up how a teacher has inspired you to become more than you were before. Paul pleads: Don’t forgot what I taught you.
Value Common Ground and you will find Peace for yourself and between each other (He is talking to the church and not the world at this point.) Can you believe there would every be fighting or division or evil or ill-will in the church? (Sarcasm for the Wit-challenged debators)
It is equally a vice and flaw for the church then as it is now, to think the church is ours. At my first church there was another church in the community that drew many members from every church in the county. It was known as “Rev Danny May’s Church.” Somewhere it changed from being known as the body of Christ, and became known as the empire of Danny May. Let’s not pick on Danny. Let’s just remember the church is not ours and it does not exist to serve us.
Make Peace with Each other and Expect God to Show up when we seek God’s will and peace.
Finally… Three points later, the Preacher’s preacher has a final call for action:
Every time you greet one another, seal the relationship with a kiss,
What is a kiss? A kiss can have many different meanings. Paul is calling for a sign of love. If you just can’t stand the thought of sharing germs find another way to show that your CHURCH relationship is one based in love. Paul is not calling for a liturgical kiss, but something with power and meaning. Imaging hearing the preacher say, “You may kiss the bride” and groom just gives the bride a little peck on the top of the hand… we’d be worried the marriage was on the rocks. If you started kissing everyone in line a Ingles or Walmart someone would call the cops. Somewhere in the middle ground is a sign of genuine pledge of love that we begin and end our conversations… Seal the relationship with signs of love.
Jesus, Father and Holy Spirit,
May All of God be in All we Do. Amen.
(The Father’s Day model signs of God in grace, love and community.) Not because you have to because you can, not because you are expected to, but because you want to, Not because you need, rather because you are needed.)