Footprints daily reflection: 5 April
An unlikely hero.
Author: Rev Fiona Forbes
I think it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus—my brother and co-worker and fellow soldier, your messenger and minister to my need.
At first glance Epaphroditus hardly seems a candidate to be one of the ‘heroes’ of the early church. He is sent from the church at Philippi to brings gifts to and care for the needs of the apostle Paul whilst he is under house arrest in Rome. But Epaphroditus becomes ill – so ill he nearly dies, and everyone is anxious. So, Paul decides to send Epaphroditus back home… it doesn’t seem like a hero’s welcome is on the cards.
But Paul frames it rather differently: things may not have worked out just as planned but the Lord has worked through Epaphroditus. He has been a minister to Paul’s need; his brother, co-worker, and fellow soldier (v.25) and Paul commends him to the church family back in Philippi. They are to welcome him and honour him for his Christ-like service of the apostle. Moreover, Paul entrusts Epaphroditus with carrying back his letter, words of instruction and encouragement, to the Philippians. This man’s return is a blessing and a cause for rejoicing.
Epaphroditus might not have done everything he, or the church, had planned to do but what he did do made a difference and deepened relationship with the apostle Paul. And, if truth be told when it comes to speaking out about or facing up to the realities of climate change we often fall short of doing all that we could or even plan to do. Like Epaphroditus’ illness, things get in the way.
Sometimes the task seems too big, sometimes we wonder if we can actually make a difference… but sometimes just coming alongside, bringing the news that others care, being prepared to pray and act boldly makes that difference, demonstrates our solidarity with those in difficult and dangerous places, forges a bond, and brings blessing as we are entrusted to carry back to our communities the stories of those like Lope and Eva. Stories which demonstrate that in spite of our weakness Christ is at work and hope is putting down healthy, strong roots – a cause for rejoicing; an encouragement to press on in the footsteps of even unlikely heroes.
Carry back Lope and Eva’s story to your church family or small group. What difference will it make to your response to climate change?
when we feel small and weak remind us that Jesus is more than adequate,
that Your power is made perfect in weakness.
Give us the courage to draw alongside our brothers and sisters
whose lives are impacted by climate change and to share their stories
that they might be encouraged by our caring and we might be challenged to serve them,
even as Christ came not to be served but to serve,
humbly, in love, and in obedience to You.
Rev. Fiona Forbes is Minister of Harmony Hill Presbyterian Church, which is situated in Lambeg on the north side of the city of Lisburn.