Prayer: God of all, you are the one true God of all the world. All nations and people were created by your loving hands and are filled with your breath of life. Teach us, O Creator, to love each other and live in harmony with one another. Teach us to live beyond our posturing and falsehoods, fears and mistrust. Show us the way to be truly useful to You and your kingdom. In your name we pray. Amen.
Reading: Philemon (Click to read text)
Stop and GROW: After reading the text, discuss/ponder the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Book of Faith questions, which are part of Camp Mount Luther's GROW Time with campers.
QUESTION 1: What scares, confuses, challenges, or doesn’t make sense to me in this text?
QUESTION 2: What delights me in this text or is my favorite part of the story?
QUESTION 3: What stories or memories does this text stir in me?
QUESTION 4: What is God up to in this text?
Reflection: Whatever became of Mr. Useful (Onesimus)? Did Philemon welcome him back as a freed man? We hope so. The fact that the letter made it into the New Testament probably means that it sparked at least a small revolution of freedom and good news.
The letter is a wonderful moment of discipleship ethics caught in time. The question, “Do you actually live by the equalizing teachings of Jesus?” is brought to the foreground. This is Paul’s version of a “come to Jesus” moment. Are you doing what you are supposed to be doing as a loving, merciful follower of the Christ?! Powerful questions and persuasive arguments to be sure!!
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