Where Love Comes to Life II
Philippians 4:1-9

Back in 2010 I wrote a sermon with the title that had been suggested as the tag line for the Lutheran Church of Australia, Where Love Comes to Life.  Since then it has slowly been included in various ways and is now displayed prominently on the new website of the LCA.  Today I want to carry on with that theme.  Our first reading opens with “Therefore my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way my beloved.”

Love was the motivation for his writing, this was a group of people whom Paul truly loved and cared for, love came to life in the presence of Christ in this place and through the urging of Paul.  We are a community where Christ’s love shines through, and we have an opportunity to show that love coming up soon. We are planning our version of the Longest Lutheran Lunch – the Big Picnic, on Sunday October 30 following our combined service at Lilydale.  We’re making the effort to reach out in love, hope and faith to the people who live around our church plant in Lilydale, we’re inviting people from a nearby retirement village, and we’re sending invites and calling people that have drifted away from regular worship or who were only ever contacts of our community.  We want to take the opportunity to reach out in love to these people and invite them to come and share in a relatively non-threatening way a time of fun and fellowship with us.

I’ve loved seeing the passion and enthusiasm that our organising team have developed as they’ve talked about and emailed ideas backwards and forwards during the last couple of months.  They know that it’s the Melbourne Cup weekend and many people will take the opportunity for a four day weekend and leave the city altogether, but they are forging ahead undeterred.  They want people to see and know our community as a place where love comes to life too.
To help this come to fruition and to continue to build this community into a place where love comes to life we need to follow some of the instruction that Paul gave to the Philippians.  Firstly he urged Euodia and Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.  We’re not told what their issues were but it seems that there was some kind of conflict going on that needed sorting out.  Paul even asked that his fellow companions get together and help to sort things out.  We may have some issues still lying dormant that might need to be faced and sorted out in order that the love of God might show through in any conflict or perceived conflict.  Only you truly know if there is someone out there who might be staying away because of some disagreement or oversight on your behalf, and the best person to fix that is you, but of course you are most welcome to seek help in doing so!

We need to be gentle and loving in all of our dealings with one another, and let that gentleness be shown to all we come into contact with, either at our Big Picnic or in any other connections and relationships we might have.  If fear is stopping you or worry, then hear that message of Paul again, “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know to God.”  Share your worries and your burdens with our Lord and saviour, he wants you to.  And what’s the result of not worrying and handing everything over to God in prayer?  You guessed it, along comes the “peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding” and it will help “guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

I shared today’s text with our Pastoral Assistants and Care and Contact Assistants at our gathering on Tuesday night too.  This section of Paul’s letter gives a great overview of how to carry out pastoral care and oversight in our community, both in an organised and structured way and in the general day to day interactions we have with each other.

When you think about it, when we gather together and share our highs and lows, in a structured way like we do in our small groups at Head to the Heart or Church Council or make a phone call to check in and see how someone is getting on, or when the KYB group send a card to let you know that they’ve been praying for you.  Or in a chance encounter with a fellow worshipper as you are doing your shopping, or as you grab a coffee somewhere, we have the opportunity to show the love that God has for us to others.  We can help them in their hour of need or rejoice with them as they celebrate a milestone like we did with a 90th birthday last week.  This is living out the tag line, where love comes to life. 

Where does that love come to life for you, the love of Christ for you and for others?  In the church of course, and when I say the church I don’t mean within these four walls.  As I mentioned last week, we are all a part of the body of Christ, each has their own unique gifts, given by God for the building up of the church, we all have our role to play according to the gifts God has given us.  Regardless of those gifts we all have love, a love for each other and a love for our God that comes from God, he wants us to give it to each other in the spirit of gentleness.  Without worrying and in prayer, so that the peace of God will be with us, and when it is the God of peace will be with us also.

Paul urged the Philippians and I urge you, keep doing all the things you have learned and received and heard and seen, do whatever is true and honourable and just, pleasing and commendable.  You have learned and grown in faith all at different times and in different ways, you all have individual stories to tell, but they all include our loving God and his church in some way.  Think on these things, reflect on the goodness of God and his presence and peace, and rejoice in the Lord always and keep coming to worship, Where love comes to life.

Amen.