Two thousand years ago, Paul wrote a letter to the church at Philippi. He begins the letter with words of blessing (Philippians 1:3-11) for this young church. His words can speak to us, as well. Paul’s letter is quoted below in italics, interspersed with my thoughts regarding the dream of church (not italicized). This was my submission to the Advent devotional for today; I'm crossposting it here.
I thank my God every time I remember you,
Created by the love, death and resurrection of Christ
A Body through which Christ is remembered.
Through which Christ embraces the Children of God.constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you,
A praying body
Remembering the pain and hopelessness
Of each member
With joy and gladness
Because we are blessed to have the gift
Of lifting each other up to God
because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now.
Witnesses for Christ
Telling the story to all those who will listen
Persuading those who believe they do not need to hear
Telling the story.
I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.
We are given the gift of confidence
That God will be victorious
That his ultimate goals will come to pass
And that we are a partner
In the work of God.
It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God's grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.
Held in each others’ hearts.
Comforted by comforting arms.
Crying together. Laughing together.
Seeking freedom for each other.
Present for each other
In grief and in terror.
In joy and in new beginnings.
For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus.
Those whose hearts are empty
Are yearning for Christ
The church can reach out to them
With love, with care, with compassion,
Filling new hearts with hope.
And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best,
Imagine, if you can,
The wonder and grace of love overflowing
So abundant that we cannot hold it.
So overwhelming that it can only come from God.
A gift from God, through us, to all.
Can we imagine it?
so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.
Amen. And amen.