Today's Lectionary Text
Philippians 3:12-14 (Common English Bible)It’s not that I have already reached this goal or have already been perfected, but I pursue it, so that I may grab hold of it because Christ grabbed hold of me for just this purpose. Brothers and sisters, I myself don’t think I’ve reached it, but I do this one thing: I forget about the things behind me and reach out for the things ahead of me. The goal I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus.
A friend gave me a gift card to a local bakery for my birthday. One day I decided to take my gift card to my local coffee shop and enjoy a warm drink on a cold Kansas day. I tried to use my gift card to pay for my drink and muffin when checking out. I tried to slide the card into the credit card machine. I swiped, tapped, and inserted. Nothing was working. I grew frustrated and asked the clerk for some assistance. She kindly looked at the card and me saying, “Look at the name of the business on here.”
I said yes, it’s for this coffee shop. I squinted and took off my glasses to get closer. It was a card for the bakery, not the coffee shop. The barista smiled and invited me to find another form of payment.
We have all had the experience of believing in our rightness and ensuring we have all the correct information. Until something or someone comes along and proves us wrong. I appreciated the gentleness of the coffee shop worker who let me discover my error. She could have been unpleasant because the line behind me was long and the shop was packed. But she just said, “Look again.” So I looked again. A dear friend and mentor, Bill Selby, has taught me that when I am trying to communicate an opinion or idea that may be new to someone, say, “I’d like to invite you to reconsider that opinion.”
The writer of Philippians encourages us to realize that we still need to hit the mark of perfection. As Wesleyan United Methodists, we are moving on to perfection or sanctification. Retired Bishop Will Willimon writes: “Wesley took seriously Jesus's invitation to ‘be ye therefore perfect as your Father which is in heaven is perfect’ (Matthew 5:48). By ‘perfection,’ Wesley did not mean moral flawlessness or sinlessness. He meant perfection in the sense of maturity.” Ask the UMC
We are all trying to move forward in love, maturity, and hope in our life in Christ. As Ram Dass wrote: “We’re all just walking each other home. Let us walk with love, humility, flexibility, and grace as we move toward the sanctification we are called to today.”
-- Rev. Shelly McNaughton-Lawrence
Olathe Aldersgate UMC
Prayer for Reflection
Sanctifying God, we confess that we may think we are getting it right, but are really getting it all wrong. Forgive us. Help us to acknowledge our errors and to learn from our mistakes. Make us teachable. Help us to become swift in apologizing and slow to correct others. Help us move on toward perfection in our love for you and each other. Amen.
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