I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. Ephesians 1:15-16
In the letters written by Paul to the various early emerging churches, Paul regularly offered words of praise and thanksgiving to encourage the people in the congregations. In those days, every congregation was a “new church”; figuring out what it meant to be disciples of Jesus Christ, what it meant to be a gathered people of this new faith, how to survive the persecutions they suffered, and how to handle the divisions and disagreements with each other as the early followers of the Way of Jesus.
No matter the issues the churches faced, no matter the frustrations and disagreements, no matter the financial health of the congregation, no matter their struggles, Paul would affirm the good that he could see in the people of each of the churches. He offered prayers and praises, along with his long “sermons” of advice included in each of the letters.
Though the challenges, dissensions, and the issues we face are very different today, we in the church are still deeply in need of prayer and affirmation. As we meet this week as a Cabinet, we know that Paul’s words are true even today: We have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason we do not cease to give thanks for you as we remember you in our prayers.
Every day, we pray for you, knowing that you are living in deep, profound faith (even while struggling and doubting and wondering about the future). You love Jesus Christ, and we praise God for all the ways you are creatively, innovatively, persistently serving as disciples (even when old patterns are broken, and new patterns must be built and we are not sure how to navigate our way through). We affirm all the ways you love one another and develop new relationships and ministries with people (even across our differences and disagreements and even despite the times we have been hurt by others).
For all these reasons, Bishop Jung and our Cabinet ceaselessly pray, affirm, and give thanks for you.
God of all faithfulness, we thank you for all the ways you guide us to be your disciples in Christ, to be inspired by your Spirit of grace, and to live as you have Created us to be. With each breath we take, we offer our prayers and our lives in gratitude and blessing. Amen.