September 5

Philemon 1-7

“I have indeed received much joy and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, my brother.” vs. 7

The letters of Paul give us amazing snapshots of life in the early Christian communities. In one way or another in dozens of cities, the good news of Jesus had been proclaimed and passed on. Hundreds of people had become believers and were meeting weekly in what were known as “house churches.” There was no established hierarchy of priests or pastors, but in each community people were being led by the Spirit to provide leadership in a variety of ways. One of those “house churches” met in the home of Philemon, a well-to-do man who lived in the city of Colossae in present day Turkey. Philemon had a slave named Onesimus who had evidently run away and found his way to Ephesus where Paul was imprisoned. Under Paul’s influence Onesimus had become a follower of Jesus too and now Paul had decided that it would be good for him to be reconciled with his master. In his letter to Philemon we sense the deep bonds of love that connected the Christians in these various communities. They were truly like family to one another and were quick to offer prayers and encouragement in every time of need. That caring has always been a strength of faith communities. Our congregations don’t exist in isolation–we have connections, a common faith that ties us together as the living, loving Body of Christ–and we look out for one another!

Thought for the Day: How is my congregation connected to the larger church?

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