Yesterday's sermon was anchored in a familiar verse by Paul. Found in his letter to the Philippians (1:21) it is perhaps his "missional statement," the focus of his life's vocation.
"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."

Sometimes verses like this seem meaningful, and yet hard to grasp. I found myself yesterday inserting the word "joy" for Christ. I don't think this is irreverent, as Christ comes to give us joy. Perhaps one could also substitute the word "love," another word that Christ embodies.

For to me to live is joy, and to die means even more joy.
For to me to live is love, and to die means even more love.

Playing with the text this way opens it up to more questions, or steps forward. To live in joy might mean that I have to start dancing. (Yesterday I had a distinct sense that my body needs to join my mind for me to experience joy most fully.) To live in love means that my heart continues to expand, that who and what I love continues to broaden, that I grow in my capacity to give, to receive and to creatively companion.

Paul sought to grab onto all that Jesus came to give. His motto is an expression of that commitment, a guiding statement that's worth sharing. It's also a good Monday mantra.
10/31/2011 01:24:40 am

That verse almost always makes me think of suffering...I see the passage as words to psych yourself up for the hard things that come with following Christ.

So, another benefit to your exercise: seeing that other side (the joy side, the love side) of following Christ.

So, thankyou for that!

11/5/2011 12:18:10 pm

Thanks for commenting, Kiki. I do think that Paul's vocation for suffering often colors how we read and understand him. Not that we might not also be called to suffer and die for Christ, but if our vocation is to teach, or to be an artist for instance, following Christ might have a different focus.


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