Sunday favorites

Sunday favorites December 30, 2012

Philippians 2:3-11

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who,

though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.

Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

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  • Hmm. Having grown up on the New World Translation, it wouldn’t have occurred to me to format that text in the form of a poem. It’s a rather nice effect.


  • It’s widely but not universally believed that the passage is Paul quoting a pre-Pauline Christian creed or hymn; the original is regarded as being poetic in form, though there are disagreements about the precise structure. However, if so, the phrase “even death on a cross” seems* to be an addition to the original – almost certainly by Paul himself.

    (*) – while this is often pointed out by Jesus-mythicists as significant, it’s the conclusion of majority biblical scholarship, not a view that originated in mythicism.

  • ReverendRef

    And yet another good passage about loving your neighbors that gets ignored by the “family values” clan.

  • Fusina

     Having just spent some time with relatives, and having discussed legal versus moral/ethical matters (it was fun–not being sarcastic here), I suspect the reason they ignore it is because this requires them to admit they are not in control of everything. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about why rich people might amass the wealth they do and why they feel they need so much. My initial thought is that it is about power and control–this led me to the parable of the Rich Fool–the one who amassed wealth beyond measure, built bigger and bigger barns to store it in, and in the end, he died and someone else got the benefit.

    Enjoy what you have. And remember that one day, it will belong to someone else. So don’t be afraid to give some of it away now. Or something like that.

  • ReverendRef

     So don’t be afraid to give some of it away now.

    It seems like there’s not enough of this, though.  There are some very public examples — the Gates Foundation comes immediately to mind.  But it seems to me that most people who amass wealth amass wealth for the sake of amassing wealth.

    But I could be wrong.

  • Fusina

     I’ve begun to wonder if it has to do with fear. Fear can cause people to do some weird stuff–also to believe some weird stuff. I left church for years because I was afraid I wasn’t good enough for God to love. Then a friend invited me to his church, and I met a pastor who was a shepherd. I still couldn’t handle church every sunday, but I worked at a store and he knew where I was, and once a week he would come by to see how I was doing and if there was anything he could pray for for me. When I did find a church home, he declared his job as MY pastor done. I have never forgotten this, and never will. The memory of that man will always temper my dislike of generic southern baptists–because he was a SB pastor. His actions made it possible for me to return to church, and with a lot less hatred for christians as a result of his actions.

  • christopher_y

    However, if so, the phrase “even death on a cross” seems* to be an addition to the original – almost certainly by Paul himself.

    Out of sheer idle curiosity, how on earth can they tell that from three (Greek) words?

  • Dash1

     It’s been a while since I studied this, so I yield to those with better knowledge, but IIRC, it has to do with the meter. Ancient poetry is pretty strict about structure and meter, so three words that don’t fit the meter would be noticeable.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Read Misquoting Jesus sometime. The shorthand explanation is that a word only used once by an author, a word that makes the text make more sense than the alternate, a word that makes the text conform more with one of the many early Christianities than with another, couple other things I forget, those are all more likely to be products of a copyist/editor than of the original author.

  • ReverendRef

     I think you’re right on with the fear aspect.  Fear of losing my place in society, fear of losing my job to “non-Americans,” fear of losing how I can amass money, fear of . . . well . . . everything.  I (and many others) refer to this as a theology of scarcity.

    One way we try to combat that is preaching a theology of abundance.  It’s an uphill battle.

    Nice to know you had a good experience with a S.B. pastor; he sounds like someone who has his priorities straight.

  • Fusina


    And it is had. I found he passed away a few years back. We will meet again.

    I think I must believe the abundance thing. I know that people think I should be way more worried about the future than I am. I think the best way to describe my philosophy of life is “Eat, Drink, Be Merry, and help those less fortunate to do the same.” I mean, take food, for instance. No matter the cost in dollars (pounds, kroner, euros, pick a currency) there is a certain amount needed per person to survive. We have the ability here and now to feed everyone–if everyone would share. I read a sermon a while ago on the loaves and fishes (or maybe a poem) about the miracle not being so much an infinitely divisible loaf but possibly that of a small child sharing and therefore causing (shaming?) everyone else to share, and what was deemed not enough by individuals was not only enough for everyone to eat and be filled, but there were leftovers. Either way, cool story.

  • Jim Roberts

    My son, who’s nine, is writing a song using these lyrics as these are his favourite verses (and also the ones he struggles with most, as seems to be the case). This would be greatly aided by him being able to 1. sing or 2. read music. I’m trying to help with both.

  • With food, there is a confounding factor in that we can produce enough food to feed everyone purely as a matter of “amount of food produced” vs “amount of food needed”, but we can’t produce all the food we need in all the places we need it. Which means that you have a second order problem of moving large amounts of food from places where it’s easy to grow food to places where it’s hard to grow food, and doing it fast enough that the food is stillgood when it gets there.

  • Fusina

     well, yes. Which makes it a crime that people in the places where the food is produced go hungry. There is also the problem of getting it to the people who need it vs the people who will use to to further enchain those who need it, eg, warlords in whichever country it was that were taking it for themselves (I seem to recall it being Somalia at the time, but fill in whatever place has people who are being persecuted currently–)

  • ReverendRef

     I’ve heard that same sermon.  The miracle isn’t that the fishes and loaves were multiplied, the miracle was that everybody shared in such a way that there were leftovers.

    Something funny that pops into my head occasionally:  The miracle of Communion isn’t that bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, but that those little wafers the priest distributes are actually bread.

  • Fusina

     Snigger. My Mum started us out in a Lutheran church, and one of the kids a few years before my confirmationclass found out that it is a really bad idea to wedge that wafer into the roof of your mouth. Worse than peanut butter. This led to a dictum sent down from above… “Do not go and do likewise”. I go to an Episcopalian church now, and mostly we use this unleavened wheat and honey flat bread–fine when it is fresh, but they tend to make three months worth at a time and wrap and freeze, and by the three month mark it is getting a bit stale. It’s still better than the wafers though.