The Rock Covenant Church

The Rock Church Worship Service

Facedown (courts of the King)
Cannons (It's falling from the clouds)
You'll Come
On Christ The Solid Rock I Stand (My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness)
Oceans (You call me out upon the waters, the great unknown where feet may fail)

Imagine you are an ancient Israelite around 700 BC

With what should I approach the Lord
and bow down before God on high?
Should I come before him with entirely burned offerings,
with year-old calves?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with many torrents of oil?
Should I give my oldest child for my crime;
the fruit of my body for the sin of my spirit?
He has told you, human one, what is good and
what the Lord requires from you:
to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:6-8 (CEB)

I get faithful love and walking with you, but what does it mean to do justice
What does it mean to be a community of justice
Here in Micah justice is the Hebrew term mishpat, means to put things right, to intervene in a situation that is wrong, oppressive, or out of control and to ‘fix’ it
Micah talks about merchants weighing down the scales to get more money from their customers
Micah speaks ill of the wealthy land owners who take the land of the smaller farmers

Doom to those who devise wickedness,
to those who plan evil when they are in bed.
By the light of morning they do it,
for they are very powerful.
They covet fields and seize them,
houses and take them away.
They oppress a householder
and those in his house,
a man and his estate.
Michah 2:1-2 (CEB)

Righteousness – tzedeqah
To reconcile the two people is God’s true goal
Justice (mishpat) is what needs to be done in a given situation if people and circumstances are to be restored to right relationships (tzedeqah) in the world
What does it look like to do this in our everyday lives

Philemon, I thank my God every time I mention you in my prayers because I’ve heard of your love and faithfulness, which you have both for the Lord Jesus and for all God’s people. I pray that your partnership in the faith might become effective by an understanding of all that is good among us in Christ. I have great joy and encouragement because of your love, since the hearts of God’s people are refreshed by your actions, my brother. Therefore, though I have enough confidence in Christ to command you to do the right thing, I would rather appeal to you through love. I, Paul—an old man, and now also a prisoner for Christ Jesus— appeal to you for my child Onesimus. I became his father in the faith during my time in prison. He was useless to you before, but now he is useful to both of us. I’m sending him back to you, which is like sending you my own heart. I considered keeping him with me so that he might serve me in your place during my time in prison because of the gospel. However, I didn’t want to do anything without your consent so that your act of kindness would occur willingly and not under pressure. Maybe this is the reason that Onesimus was separated from you for a while so that you might have him back forever— no longer as a slave but more than a slave—that is, as a dearly loved brother. He is especially a dearly loved brother to me. How much more can he become a brother to you, personally and spiritually in the Lord! So, if you really consider me a partner, welcome Onesimus as if you were welcoming me.
Philemon 1:4-17 (CEB)

While reading verse 16, O Holy Night lyrics kept coming into my head where they talk about breaking the chains of a slave

Being a community of justice means being people who do what needs to be done in a given situation to bring people and circumstances into right relationship with each other

1) Paul comes to e defense of the vulnerable and weak
2) Paul is taking steps in the context of the specific relationship to bring the two to “right relationship”
The topic of slavery in Scriptures is a messy issue but know two things
God is a God of freedom
Scripture is headed towards a place where everyone is free
Can’t end slavery in a day, so have to work within the system to reconcile relationships
3) Paul is more interested in reconciling and moving to right relationship than in punishment and placing blame
We don’t have any additional backstory or resolution to this story
Placing blame is the oldest sin in the Bible
They come looking for justice, but they just want to tell their story of blaming others

Paul follows his Lord’s example…..Who is to blame or who is at fault is not a primary concern for Paul: what matters is that the gospel can reconcile those at odds with each other, even if one has a rightful claim against the other.
Prof. Marianne Meye Thompson

4) Paul wants the powerful to move towards “right relationship” not by command but out of love

Ed. note: Reminds me of Lincoln’s quote about “right makes might”.

If he has harmed you in any way or owes you money, charge it to my account. I, Paul, will pay it back to you (I’m writing this with my own hand). Of course, I won’t mention that you owe me your life.
Philemon 1:18-19 (CEB)

5) Paul follows the way of Jesus and takes the cost of the reconciliation upon himself

We have been entrusted with a ministry of reconciliation

I’ve never heard a sermon on Philemon
That was excellent, thank you Maria

Season of change swirling around us
Our God is constant and faithful and true

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