I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace... (Philippians 1:3-7 ESV)
As many of you know, in the process of considering what to share with you during the two sermons leading up to the final vote, I ended up reading this passage from Philippians 1. Immediately I knew this was where I wanted to begin. Not only did this passage contain essential aspects of what it means to partner together as members of a local church, it also perfectly expressed my thoughts and feelings about you as a church body: thankfulness, remembrance, prayer, joy, partnership in the gospel, confidence in God’s faithfulness to complete what he has started, affection, and a shared experience of God’s grace in the gospel.
Speaking of feelings, I wish I could take you to the moment, just after 8:30pm, last Sunday, when my phone buzzed and the name “Scott James” appeared on the screen. I quickly walked into my bedroom and answered it. Scott began, “Matthew D Mason....” Aside: growing up, the formal naming convention was usually reserved for un-exciting moments – often an indicator that my parents had just discovered that 1) something was wrong in the world and that 2) this something had to do with me. Scott’s voice, however, had a discernible tone of excitement. He proceeded to officially congratulate me on being affirmed as the new Senior Pastor of The Church at Brook Hills. I shouted and as I came out into the living room, everyone joined in and shouted with me. There was an immediate sense of relief that the search process was over, and an incredible feeling of joy that you said yes!
Philippians 1:6 is such a well known verse. But, it’s good to bear in mind that it has a context. The context is God’s work in and through the local church. It was the Lord who began the good work which became The Church at Brook Hills. And as I relocate my books from one office to another, my confidence is not misplaced. Any fruit we experience as we partner in the gospel and partake of God’s grace will only occur because the One who began this “good work” is faithfully “bringing it to completion.”
As I pray for you, I can’t improve on what Paul goes on to pray for Philippi.
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11 ESV)
Your partner in the gospel,