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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Today’s Scripture Reading | 2 Timothy 1:15–2:13

You are aware that all who are in Asia have turned away from me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes. May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chain; when he arrived in Rome, he eagerly searched for me and found me—may the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! And you know very well how much service he rendered in Ephesus.

You then, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus; and what you have heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well. Share in suffering like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving in the army gets entangled in everyday affairs; the soldier’s aim is to please the enlisting officer. And in the case of an athlete, no one is crowned without competing according to the rules. It is the farmer who does the work who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in all things.

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David—that is my gospel, for which I suffer hardship, even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, so that they may also obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. The saying is sure: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself. (NRSV)

I never met a commissioning I didn’t like. Seriously, I think the church does something uniquely affirming and valuable when we bless and pray for people who have said “yes” to specific work in the church, whether serving as an officer, working on the Urban Youth Mission staff in the summer, or going on a mission trip.

At the core of the commission are the details people are signing up for: volunteering for lock-ins, being a friend among their fellow leaders, praying, studying, working. Those are the kinds of details we read here in Paul’s commission of Timothy to share the good news of Jesus: say the things you’ve heard me say; accept your share of suffering; follow the rules; work hard. Timothy needs to know the score about what he’s agreed to, so Paul gives it to him straight. Good for Paul.

But there’s more to a commission than a straight-faced recitation of how serious it all is. There’s also a promise. Verses 11–12 probably quote a verse from a hymn that Timothy would know from worship, something perhaps sung as often during first-century commissionings as “Here I Am, Lord” is sung at twenty-first-century ones, and Paul wants that hymn to be Timothy’s constant companion in all his work. Especially the words, “[God] stays faithful.”

All disciples are commissioned to “participate actively and responsibly in the worship and mission of the church” (The Book of Order). The details of how we fulfill that commission differ among all of us, but the promise is the same. No matter what limitations of circumstance or knowledge or commitment we may come up against, God stays faithful.

God stays faithful.

Faithful God, you send us out into the world to serve, to share, and to announce the good news of your abundant mercy and grace to all. We take your faithfulness with us, so that the world may know that everything good comes from you and that you stay faithful. Always. Amen.

Written by Rocky Supinger, Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry

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