Much of the Apostle Paul’s writing in the New Testament is instructions for newer Christians who are trying to figure out what the Gospel looks like in everyday life. Timothy, the person receiving Paul’s words here, is someone Paul is mentoring into leadership within the church. I’d like to begin with the end in mind today. Take hold of the life that really is life. Rather than hear Paul’s writing as a list of rules, listen to where this passage is calling YOU to take hold of all that is life-giving and release the rest, the senseless things that trap our spirits and lead to destructive ways of being in this world.
1 Timothy 6: 6-19 “Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it, 8 but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. 9 But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.
11 But as for you, Timothy, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 In the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep the commandment without spot or blame until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will bring about at the right time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. 16 It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
17 As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches but rather on God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, 19 thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.”
God created you and I to experience life in abundance- Paul gives great examples of “life that really is life” like making right choices, placing God at the center, practicing faith, love, endurance, & gentleness. All these, “treasures of a good foundation for our future.” He gives an example of the difference it makes in our hearts how we handle something as essential as money. What meaning are you attaching to it? Paul asks. Are you using it for the wellbeing of all- or just yourself? A spending spree feels good for a moment, yes it does, but generosity leads to life that really is life. Pursue that life, Paul says, the one in which people matter more than things.
We all yearn for deep connection. It's a truth that transcends time and space. Whether it’s today, in Paul’s day, in the time before written language itself…people needed other people. We know that life itself does not happen apart from a carefully orchestrated ecosystem. Look around you today- here’s the proof! And we know in an ecosystem what affects one, affects all. Even though we are wired for it, Paul reminds us we must TAKE HOLD of those relationships- pursuing them for abundant life’s sake.
This is our last week with Brene Brown’s guideposts for whole-hearted living. Along with courage and compassion, CONNECTION is essential to our well being. Life that really is life is a life truly connected.
In a 2017 interview with Forbes magazine, Brene Brown addresses the spiritual crisis of dehumanizing behavior we see in a society fractured along political and religious ideologies. She speaks of the courage and compassion needed, both of which cannot happen apart from real connection. “True belonging is not passive. It’s not the belonging that comes with just joining a group. It’s not fitting in or pretending or selling out because it’s safer. It’s a practice that requires us to be vulnerable, get uncomfortable, and learn how to be present with people without sacrificing who we are. If we are going to change what is happening in a meaningful way we’re going to need to intentionally be with people who are different from us. We’re going to have to sign up and join, and take a seat at the table. We’re going to have to learn how to listen, have hard conversations, look for joy, share pain, and be more curious than defensive, all while seeking moments of togetherness.
Friends, I cannot think of a better place to practice this type of connection that right here in church. It takes courage for new members to join, and we rejoice in your courageous act today, Kyle & Casey. We hope to be an authentic and compassionate community that helps you raise Evelyn into life abundant. We also hope you take seriously the call to shape us into a new future together.
Relationships don’t just happen, and next week we’ll ponder together what new ways we as a church can prioritize being really connected. Even in the fabric of ministry leadership, I have learned so much in five years about the true value each of you bring to the table. But we’re in the park this morning, we have beautiful food and good conversation awaiting us, so I won’t launch into sermon number 2 today.
Let me wrap it up with this: I want this church to be a place where you discover the life that really is life. Where you can take hold of it alongside me. We need EVERY VOICE at the table to make it happen, and that begins with an invitation. A real human-to-human encounter that says “You matter.” Here’s my ask: Make one new connection within this church family this week. Send one card, write one email, use our member directory to reach out to one person. Grab coffee, go for a walk. Say a prayer together. You don’t even have to be strangers, maybe you’ve worshiped alongside each other for 5 years, but still don’t know if that person has any siblings. Ask. Practice that courage, compassion, and connection we know to be essential to OUR OWN wellbeing AND the wellbeing of this community centered in Christ’s love. That’s the best kind of generosity there is: the gift of attention. Thanks for being church for one another- we wouldn’t be as strong without you. Amen.
Rev. Emily Munger
delights in connecting sacred texts with everyday life.