Once upon a time (true story!) there were two women who were both leaders in the church, and who worked alongside each other joyfully. But then something happened: an argument? a power struggle? Whatever it was, soon both women were robbed of their joy and the church found itself embroiled in an argument. The women were Euodia and Syntyche, and their story is 2000 years old, but in actuality, it is a story that happens every day. What causes these sorts of divisions in our churches. More importantly, how can we prevent them and deal with them when they occur. This is the focus of our second message taken from Paul's letter to the church at Philippi.
Paul's letter to the church in Philippi rings with joy and hopefulness. How could this be? After all, Paul wrote this letter while in a Roman prison... surely joy was the furthest thing from his mind. Think again! Paul's letter shows us a joy that transcends the circumstances of life because it is rooted in something far more lasting: The "koinonia" of the gospel. You see, Paul shares a deep fellowship with his Philippian brothers and sisters. This "koinonia" is far more than a "back-slapping friendship:" it is "a mutual sharing of the gospel of Christ and a partnership in the mission of Christ." Today we learn how a church like ours could benefit from pursuing this substantive fellowship that filled Paul with joy. Perhaps we too could experience this fullness of joy if we too took seriously the call to Christian "koinonia."
Too often we criticize Thomas for lacking the faith to believe in the resurrection. We call him "doubting Thomas," but perhaps rather than criticize Thomas we should congratulate him! In a day and age where it is increasingly hard to discern the truth, isn't Thomas an example to us of someone who took time to make sure he wasn't being led astray? After all, didn't Jesus teach Thomas:
"If anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.” Matthew 24:23-24
Today we applaud Thomas for taking the time to discern the truth of Christ in the midst of a confusing time. Perhaps we too can learn to separate fact from fiction in our world today.
Canon Robert Hurkmans was the priest at St. James and St. Brendan from 2006 to 2018.