Season After Pentecost, 2019 Year C : The Epistle Passage – Listening when Paul is preaching from afar

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” ( 2 Timothy 1:1 – 2)

On days that I ponder, write/comment on the epistle passages are usually hectic and long work hours days. I can be an uphill battle to set that aside and consider what Paul has to say to his readers/listeners. But today I am just going to relax and lean in to it – let Paul speak to me as he speaks to Timothy.

“I am grateful to God–whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did–when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy.” (Verses 3 – 4)

Do you have someone, beloved reader, that would write to you so tenderly and longingly. Maybe a family member or a friend? I would hope that everyone would have a person (at least one person if not more) who would hold another in such high regard.

“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you. For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.” (Verses 5 – 7)

I wish I could say that I hold these feelings for you, but our connection does not support such affections and feelings. Through our Lord God it does actually – being part of the family of God. But I cannot name specifics of your life. However, the Lord God the Divine can, and does. You may not hear it as Timothy heard from Paul, or as you may hear from one who is near and dear to you on this earth. But the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Divine, knows you in such an intimate way. And if you could and would open your spiritual ears, I am sure the Divine would speak to you.

“Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” (Verses 8 – 10)

I know, beloved reader, just as you are leaning back and leaning into the tender sentiments, Paul starts preaching.

“For this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher, and for this reason I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him. Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.” (Verses 11 – 14)

But really, the tender message that Paul started out with and the exhortation he moved into are from the same font of emotion. When Paul preaches & teaches, exhorts & instructs he is doing it because the love and passion that the Lord God has placed in him compels him to share the good news that he knows is vital to every member of humanity. Paul is just as moved in weeping because of being apart from friends (such as Timothy) as he is in preaching the good news. Neither should you think that Paul only had this “tender” regard Timothy. If he was propelled and compelled by love of/from/for the Divine, then he held many people dear. His blustery pedagogical manner hid, I am sure, a well of emotion. At least that is the perspective I want to take today, because I could use some “warm fuzzy.”

May you, beloved reader, take comfort in the love, care, and concern that family and friends have for you. Selah!

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