Minister’s letter: patience and St Paul’s letters from prison

Dear Friends,

Well here we are again, back in lockdown for now, albeit with hope via the vaccine roll-out. I pray for you all, longing to meet up safely again once that is possible. This last year has been a lesson in patience for us all and that never comes easy, does it? I remember in my twenties finding it hard waiting for something: my mother chided me with the time-honoured words Patience is a virtue. In response my cheeky brother gave me a car sticker with the words “Lord, give me patience, and give it to me right now!

The present lockdown set me thinking about St. Paul’s experience of being imprisoned for his faith. In AD 60, he arrived in Rome and was imprisoned later that year. For the next two years, Paul lived under house arrest. His four letters from prison, which can be found in the bible, were written during this time.

His letter to the Ephesians includes his teaching on putting on the armour of God); imitating Christ; guidelines for a good, healthy marriage;  being saved by grace; the calling of apostles & teachers; making the most of every opportunity; and not going to bed angry.

Paul’s letter to the Philippians speaks of God completing the work He started; finding joy in present circumstances; one day every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord; rejoice in the Lord always; and I can do all things through Christ.

The Letter to the Colossians includes putting on love and a heart of; do everything in the name of Jesus; family relations; and work as if working for the Lord.

His Letter to Philemon, which was written to Philemon, a wealthy fellow believer, urges him to forgive his slave Onesimus (a fellow believer) for running away.

Even while imprisoned, whether in person or via letter, Paul continued his profound ministry with the authority of Jesus Christ. Wouldn’t it be great if lockdown meant more of us at St. Paul’s URC find time to read our Bibles? Better still, we might try to put his teaching into practice while we wait, patiently or otherwise, for the freedom to come and go again in safety, and the freedom to gather again for worship at our church that bears St. Paul’s name. Oh what a joy that will be!

Take care and stay safe!  Your friend and Minister,