September 05, 2004

Mark Greenstreet - “Slavery”

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On Labour Day Sunday, Mark Greenstreet spoke on slavery, and it turns out he is not in favour of it, despite what some of his students might think. The only deeply personal letter in the Pauline letters, (as opposed to doctrinal letter to a church), Paul is seen interceding for Onesimus (“useless”) to the slave-owner and friend Philemon who was wronged by Onesimus, even to the point of saying “if he owes you anything, charge me (Paul)”. He doesn’t want to betray his trust to his friend Philemon, and he does not want to harbour an escaped slave, especially not with Christ’s return imminent. However, he also reminds Philemon that it is because of Paul and Christ that Philemon has eternal life. Mark sees this as a model for individual behaviour in the church, held to the higher standard God expects: “You are all children of God...there is neither Jew nor Greek , slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Jesus Christ”(Gal 3). Paul never said the church should be more restrictive or hierarchical than the society it lived in. Mark contrasts this with people today who quote Paul to encourage the church to be more hierarchical than the society around it. Paul’s language of expectation to Philemon is very clever in its encouragement to treat Onesimus differently from the way he would be treated by others - the slave whom Philemon will want to punish is the same brother in Christ who Philemon will be spending eternity with. Paul leaves the decision to Philemon. What happened? We don’t know - there was no 2Philemon letter for us to refer to. But we can guess the letter wasn’t just ripped up. And in the second century after Christ lived a bishop named Onesimus who helped assemble the canon of writings that became the Bible. Could it be...? So too are we left with a decision - redemption or revenge? How will we treat those around us - forever? [AP]


Passage: Philemon 1
Communion: No
Ecumenical or Event:
Potluck Lunch: No
Congregational Meeting: No


Speaker: Mark Greenstreet
Worship Leader: Mark Northey
Song Leader: Evan Kreider
Pianist: Cynthia Friesen
Usher: Marcie Good
Zoom Coordinator:
Children's Feature Leader:


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