A Bible Reading: Philemon 1:4-7
I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord's people.
It is quite a profound experience to unite together across our nation at eight o’clock on Thursday evenings, to show our appreciation for the great work being done by our NHS workers during this pandemic. It is good to come together, and it is good to show our appreciation.
Paul’s letter to Philemon is one of the shortest and least read of Paul’s letters in the New Testament, but there is a lot we can learn from it at this time. You will find it at the end of Paul’s letters, after Timothy and Titus and before Hebrews.
This letter of Paul’s is personal, it is written to an individual rather than to a Church, and it is a letter of thanks for Philemon’s love and faith and for the joy and encouragement he has been to Paul. It is also a letter encouraging him to welcome back and to treat well his runaway slave, Onesimus, who has been a great help to Paul while he is in prison.
Paul is clearly thankful for Philemon, and he gives thanks for him, and for his work and ministry, as he prays for him. But he also takes the trouble to let him know of his appreciation, in this case by writing to him from his prison cell.
There are many people we are thankful for, especially at this time. Some are the rich and powerful, like Philemon, but many are those like Onesimus who, in terms of social standing, are well down the list, but in terms of help and support to us and to this nation are absolutely vital.
Let us follow Paul’s example from our temporary prison cells and show our appreciation for all those who help us, both in our prayers and in personal thanks. And on Thursdays at eight in the evening!
Father God, thank you for all those who work sacrificially, in so many ways, to care for others at this time. Protect those who are in danger, strengthen the weary and give great wisdom to those who make decisions that affect the lives of all of us. May we all come through this crisis with a greater appreciation of the value of everyone.