When I served at First Mount Dora, there was a woman in the congregation, Wendy, who was an amazing supporter of the gospel- particularly among those who did not even believe in God. She would make connections between the behaviors they exhibited and the gospel, helping them see that their ability to act in those ways actually originated with God. She was patiently and persistently allowing God to use her to move an atheist woman from hostility toward the gospel, to a willingness to listen to stories about God working in the world, to directly asking questions about Jesus and the gospel, all in the context of a growing friendship formed around work for the local school that both their teenage boys attended. She is an example to me of meeting people where they are but asking God for grace not to let them remain separate from him. Somewhere on our faith journeys, most Christians experience the encouragement and guidance of one or more other Christians who pray for and with us, who help us persevere, and who challenge us to live into the fullness of the Christian life- loving God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind and our neighbors as ourselves. Living together in grace, we find a way to persevere even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. The Apostle Paul was that kind of person for every church God started through him. Sometimes he was stern, as in Galatians, sometimes loving and affirming, as in Philippians, but every time, he prayed for them and reminded them that they were partners in contending for the gospel.
I look forward to being with you this Sunday to consider what Paul's words to the Philippians have to say to us today. Happy 50th Birthday, St. Andrew's!