3 I thank my God every time I mention you in my prayers. 4 I’m thankful for all of you every time I pray, and it’s always a prayer full of joy.5 I’m glad because of the way you have been my partners in the ministry of the gospel from the time you first believed it until now. 6 I’m sure about this: the one who started a good work in you will stay with you to complete the job by the day of Christ Jesus . . . 9 This is my prayer: that your love might become even more and more rich with knowledge and all kinds of insight. 10 I pray this so that you will be able to decide what really matters and so you will be sincere and blameless on the day of Christ. 11 I pray that you will then be filled with the fruit of righteousness, which comes from Jesus Christ, in order to give glory and praise to God. (Philippians 1.3-6, 9-11)
It’s common for the apostle Paul to begin his letters with an expression of thanksgiving. However, there are a few unique and interesting elements to this particular prayer of thanksgiving. For one, Paul chooses to use the Greek word “deomai” instead of the more common verb “proseuche.” The kind of prayer that Paul talks about here is more of a “request,” a “petition.” Paul says in verse 9 that his prayer request comes so that “your love might be even more and more rich with knowledge and all kinds of insight.”
What also is fascinating about this petition of thanksgiving is that Paul uses the word “koinonia,” that we are partners in Christ’s service, sharing in the spreading of the good news. Therefore, Paul’s prayer of thanksgiving is a request for partnership, community, and sharing of the gospel so that love may overflow and that we may be filled with joy.
This is my prayer, my petition for you, for us. This year, I will have been a member of the Presbytery of San Francisco for eight years. In those eight years, I feel that this presbytery, you all, have journeyed with me through some important milestones in my life. In those eight years, I feel that you all have nurtured me in my call and in my spiritual growth.
Many of you have come to my wedding ten years ago as friends and family . . . so much so that people said it felt like a mini-presbytery meeting (minus the motions and amendments of course.) You all have created a warm and inviting atmosphere for my kids to sit with us during those long presbytery meetings . . . so much so that my son equates them to going to Disneyland. I’m not sure if that should be a concern or a blessing. You have made it possible for my husband, InHo Kim, and I to serve the presbytery while also having young children . . . so much so that I have often made committee reports while my son was strapped to my body in a sling . . . so much so that I have often chaired those late night meetings while rocking my baby girl to sleep.
I feel honored and blessed to have journeyed with many of you through ordinations, births, transitions to new calls, deaths, disappointments, and retirements. I have seen this presbytery through many leadership transitions, mission statements and priorities. I have sat through many long nights on contentious votes – usually holding my kids asleep in my arms awaiting the outcome. Along with that journey, I have also experienced the many frustrations, lack of trust, and disappointing times as well.
I say all this because this is to remind you of what you all have done well – for me, for my family, and for each other. However, the fact remains that we have a lot of work to do to move towards a healthier presbytery, healthier relationships, and a healthier spirit.
Council, committees, working groups, and task forces have been working hard these past couple of years on that movement. My focus as moderator this year will be on how we meet as a presbytery. You will see some small and major changes throughout the year. And my prayer, my petition to you is that we can be partners in this change. It is up to you all, the koinonia, on how we will share in ministry, partner in God’s call in order for joy and love to overflow.
My charge to you is this: love one another, listen to one another, and take a moment to meet someone you haven’t had a chance to meet yet. John Anderson, my Head of Staff, always reminds our congregation that “God loves you and there is nothing you can do about it.” Shouldn’t we then be ever compelled to share that love with one another and the world. As the song says, “They will know we are Christians by our love.” My hope is that we will believe it enough to share it and live it.
I have high expectations for this year. I have set a high goal for us. My goal is that the changes we make in how we meet as a presbytery will be so wonderful that we will actually say, “I love my presbytery.” The truth is I do love this presbytery and wouldn’t be here if I didn’t. I look forward to working together this year.