Gospel Community

July 11, 2021 ()

Bible Text: Romans 16:1-16 |

Series:

Gospel Community | Romans 16:1-16
Brian Hedges | July 11, 2021

This morning we’re going to be in Romans 16:1-16, if you want to turn there in your Bibles.

One of the core values of our church is community, which we define as “following Jesus in partnership with others.” I think from the very beginning of my role here as the lead pastor at Redeemer Church, community has been an important part of the ministry here and of my vision and the elders’ vision for our church. We want to be a church that is characterized by real, biblical, gospel community—relationships that are authentic and that are rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s what we’re going to talk about this morning: following Jesus in partnership with others as part of a gospel community.

We’re coming to the end of the book of Romans. We are now going to begin in Romans 16; there will be this message today and then we will finish this letter next week. Today we’re looking at a portion of Scripture that we might be tempted to pass over to skim through. You read through it and it is a long list of very difficult names to pronounce, so bear with me as I read God’s word here in just a moment.

I think that if you read between the lines in Romans 16:1-16, what comes into focus is a very clear picture of what a gospel community is. Paul here is sending his greetings to the believers in the church of Rome, and he is commending a woman named Phoebe, a sister in Christ, who is probably sending with the letter that he has written. So he commends Phoebe to the church and then he greets a number of people in this church. Again, when you read between the lines in these verses, there’s a lot here for us to learn and some application for us as a church.

I want to begin by reading Romans 16:1-16. You can follow along on the screen or in your own copy of God’s word. Paul says,

“I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.

“Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in Asia. Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me. Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. Greet my kinsman Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus. Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord. Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers who are with them. Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.”

This is God’s word.

I think one of the benefits of sequential exposition through Scripture, where we take books of the Bible paragraph by paragraph and verse by verse, is that it forces us to pay attention to passages like this. It’d be easy to skim through it, it’d be easy to skip over it, but there are some important lessons for us in this passage about what a gospel community is. I want to point out four things to you this morning about gospel community that I think are very clear right here in the text, four lessons about gospel community. May the Lord apply this to our hearts so that we at Redeemer Church will become this kind of gospel community.

1. Gospel community is characterized by the warm affection of family relationships

Here’s the first thing we learn: Gospel community is characterized by the warm affection of family relationships. Did you notice as we were reading through this passage Paul’s use of familial language and the affection that he has for his readers?

You see it in verse 1: “I commend to you our sister Phoebe . . .” Here’s a sister in Christ that Paul is commending to the church.

When you get to verse 14 he lists five people, “along with the brothers who are with them.” In verse 13 he says, “Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well.”

An interesting side note about Rufus is that he very well may have been the son of Simon of Cyrene, the man who carried Jesus’s cross. The only other reference to a Rufus that we have in Scripture is found in the Gospel According to Mark, in Mark 15. We believe that Mark was writing based on the reporting of the apostle Peter and probably was writing from Rome, and in Mark 15:21 we read, “And they compelled one Simon, a Cyrenian who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.” So it very well may be that this Rufus was the same Rufus that Mark references there.

But notice that Paul says that he is greeting not only Rufus, but also his mother, and he says, “She has been a mother to me as well.” In other words, he has this deep affection for this woman who has been a mother to him.

All of this shows us that the gospel makes us part of a new family. The gospel brings us into the family of God, and a gospel community is a family. It is the family of God, where God is our father and Christ is our elder brother, and fellow believers in Jesus Christ—especially those believers in the local church of which we are a part—are our brothers and our sisters, and in some cases our mothers and our fathers, in the Lord.

Notice how these new relationships, these relationships in the church, are to be characterized by warm, familial love and affection. Four time in this passage (verses 5, 8, 9, and 12), some of these people he’s greeting Paul calls “beloved,” because they are deeply loved by him. When he commends Phoebe to the church, he wants them to welcome her, and it’s reminiscent of Romans 15:7, where has told the whole church, “Welcome one another as Christ also has welcomed you to the glory of God.” There is to be this warm reception as we welcome one another into the family.

Then, of course, in verse 16 he says, “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” In Eastern cultures still today a kiss is often a symbol of affection that is shared not just within family but among friends, and that was the case here.

Listen, brothers and sisters, there is nothing more basic and nothing more important in our social relationships than family. We know that. We know how important family is in our own lives, and we see illustrations of this all the time.

Yesterday I took my kids to see this new Marvel movie, Black Widow. It’s the latest in the Marvel franchise. It’s a pretty good movie, as far as it goes, but the heart of the movie and what makes these movies work are the relationships. The heart of this movie is family. That’s the emotional center, that’s the emotional core. The same thing could be said of the best Star Wars films and so on. Family is important. We know that. That’s where our hearts are.

In the church, the church is meant to be a family. It is the family of God, the gospel bringing us into this family.

Right here there’s the first test of our own understanding of the local church and of gospel community. Do you view fellow believers in the church like this, as brothers and as sisters in Jesus Christ? Not just do we think of another formally in that way, but do we have the kind of relationship that is as close and many times is actually closer than the natural family ties that we have with our families of origin?

If you’ve been a part of a church for a long time, as I now have been 18 years in this church, there are brothers and sisters that I have now been walking with and following Jesus with long enough that the relationship is that deep, a brother in Christ who is as close (in some ways even closer) than my family of origin. That should be true for you. If it’s not true for you, then it means that there [needs to be] a deeper investment and perhaps longer time in the same fellowship.

By the way, I think one of the problems that happens—it’s one of the ways that we suffer ourselves—when we skip around churches and move churches—there are good reasons to move churches, I’m not saying there’s not, but one of the things that happens if you leave a church and you go to another church is you often have to start over again, right? You have to start all over in building these kinds of relationships. So it’s worth being in one church for a long time so that you can build this kind of familial love.

Gospel community is characterized by the warm affection of family relationships, and that’s something we want here at Redeemer Church, is that kind of warmth and that kind of affection for one another in Christ.

2. Gospel community is characterized by social diversity

Here’s the second thing we learn—this also is quite challenging to us—gospel community is characterized by social diversity. Commentaries such as John Stott point out how the 26 names that Paul gives as he’s greeting different people in this church actually break down the barriers of race, class, and gender.

Race. There are both Jewish and Gentile names. Several times Paul mentions people who are his kinsmen; that probably means that they were fellow Jews. But many of the names are Roman names or Gentile names. It’s probable that Rufus, if he was indeed the son of Simon of Cyrene, he was probably African, he was probably a dark-skinned man. So there was diversity of color, diversity of ethnicity, Jew and Gentile.

Of course, this is one of the reasons Paul writes this letter, is to unite this racially divided, Jewish-Gentile community. So there’s racial and ethnic diversity.

There’s also diversity of class. There are indications—again, scholars point this out, and we don’t have to get into the details, but scholars point out that when you study the archeological finds and documents from the ancient world, even those outside of Scripture, that a lot of these names that Paul uses here were common names for slaves. So it was very probable that as he’s writing, he’s writing to a church that has a number of slaves who have been converted to Christ.

Now, anytime we encounter slavery in Scripture, we shouldn’t just automatically equate that with the race-based slavery of the American South and our own very dark history in this country. It would often be the case that people would sell themselves into slavery temporary, they would be bondslaves, but they were essentially the working class in that culture.

So there were slaves, but there were also—at least there are indications here that there were also people who were from the more aristocratic classes. For example, Stott says that it’s quite likely that Aristobulus was the grandson of Herod the Great and a friend of the emperor Claudius, and that Narcissus was none other than the well-known rich and powerful freedman who exercised great influence on Claudius. Now, when Paul addresses people here, he addresses the family or the household of Narcissus, so it might not have been Narcissus himself, but people that were within that household.

The point here is that it seems like there were people from both the working class and from the upper class in this church.

Then, of course, you have Paul addressing both men and women. Nine of the twenty-six persons to whom Paul sends greetings are probably women. You have Prisca or Priscilla in verse 3. Priscilla is the version of the name that Luke gives in the book of Acts, but when Paul writes of Prisca and Aquila he uses the name Prisca. You have Mary in verse 6; you have Junia in verse 7; Tryphena and Tryphosa, probably sisters, some have even speculated twins, in verse 12; the beloved Persis, who worked hard in the Lord, was probably a woman, verse 12b; the mother of Rufus in verse 13; the sister of Nereus in verse 15; and a woman named Julia also in verse 15.

All these were women. Paul had a high regard for the women in the church of Rome, and of course, the section begins as Paul commends a woman named Phoebe. Let’s look at that more closely in verses 1-2.

He says, “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you. For she has been a patron of many, and of myself as well.”

Paul here says three things about Phoebe. She is, first of all, a sister, “our sister in Christ, Phoebe.” She’s a sister. She is, secondly, a servant, or a diakonos, so probably a deacon, an office-bearer from the church at Cenchreae. Our understanding at Redeemer Church, when you look at the qualifications for deacons in 1 Timothy 3, is that that list includes both male and female deacons, so you had both men and women bearing this office in the early church. If that’s the case, this would be a confirmation of that, if Phoebe was indeed an office-bearer, a deacon in the church of Cenchreae.

Then he says that she was “a patron[ or a benefactor] of many, and of myself as well.” That probably means that she was a very wealthy woman, and that she had used her financial resources to help Paul in his ministry. She perhaps was something like Selina, the countess of Huntington, who in the 18th century was a patron, a benefactor of George Whitefield and did so much work for evangelicals during the Great Awakening. Well, here’s Phoebe, who was something like that.

What’s clear is that she’s a very important person and that Paul wants the church to receive her and to help her, and it is very possible that he had sent the letter, this letter that he had written to the Roman church, he had sent it in Phoebe's hands, and Phoebe was the first person to actually read this letter to the church.

What we’re learning here is that Paul has such a high regard for women, and what we’re learning throughout in this point is that there was social diversity in the church, this characterized the church, and it is right that the church should have this kind of diversity within it.

It reminds us of this great truth of the gospel as Paul states it in Galatians 3:27, that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” These social distinctions which tend to separate us and divide us, and especially in a culture like ours today, there’s so much division between races, between classes, between genders—in the church, that division should no longer exist. The walls should come down where there is the highest possible respect and regard for one another in Jesus Christ.

Once again, here’s a test for your own experience of gospel community. Ask yourself, do you have warm and healthy relationships with people who are outside your normal social circle? Do you have warm, healthy relationships with people who are older than you, a different generation, or younger? Do you have close relationships with believers of the opposite gender, someone who is a sister in Christ or a brother in Christ, where there is a brotherly-sisterly kind of relationship? Do you have friendships and relationships with believers of other ethnicities, or of people who make more or less money than you? Do you have the kind of relationships where those kinds of differences don’t make things awkward, but because you have such common ground in Jesus Christ there is warm, open-hearted love for one another? That was the characterize the church of Rome, it certainly characterized Paul in his relationships with the believers; it should characterize us as well.

3. Gospel community is characterized by a commitment to the hard work of gospel ministry

Gospel community is characterized by the warm affection of family relationships, it’s characterized by social diversity, and then number three (notice this), gospel community is characterized by a commitment to the hard work of gospel ministry.

Once again, when you read through this passage you’ll notice the emphasis Paul places on work. He describes Prisca, Aquila, and Urbanus as fellow workers (verses 3 and 9), he calls Tryphena and Tryphosa “those workers in the Lord” (verse 12), and he says that Mary (verse 6) and Persis (verse 12) worked hard.

When we dig into the details, I think we get a clue as to the range of activities that could be included in this commitment to the hard work of ministry. Just take for a moment Prisca and Aquila, or Priscilla and Aquila, verses 3-5. He says, “Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life; to whom not only I give thanks, but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. Greet also the church in their house.”

We know a little more about Priscilla and Aquila from other passages of Scripture. Paul mentions them in 1 Corinthians 16 as well as 2 Timothy 4, and especially we learn about them in Acts 18. What we know is that they were from Rome, but they had been expelled from Rome, exiled from Rome because of the edict of Claudius, the emperor. Probably after Claudius died they went back to Rome, which was their home city. By the time Paul writes this letter, they were evidently back in Rome. We know that they were tentmakers, like the apostle Paul. They obviously had a gift for hospitality; they hosted a house church in their home. In fact, the church of Rome was probably made up of anywhere from three to five house churches, so small congregations of maybe 40-60 people who would meet together in a home, these together comprising the church of Rome. They didn’t have buildings like this available to them, where they could all meet together.

Then we know from Acts 18 that both Priscilla and Aquila had a special gift for teaching and instructing others. Listen to what Luke tells us in Acts 18:24-26 about the relationship with a man named Apollos. “Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and being fervent in spirit he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscila and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.”

Here’s a husband and wife who are a teaching team, a team who are privately training and instructing and exhorting Apollos, who is one of the most eloquent preachers in the early church. Priscilla and Aquila had this role together.

We also know from this passage that they risked their lives for Paul. Paul says, “They risked for necks for me.” They put their own lives on the line, willing to make sacrifices in order to help Paul. So he commends and greets this couple, Priscilla and Aquila.

We learn from this passage also that there must be sometimes a willingness to suffer for Jesus’s sake for the work of ministry. So hard work includes not just the teaching and the hospitality, but it sometimes involves a willingness to suffer for Jesus’ sake. We see this in verse 7. “Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners.” Here are two people, perhaps also a husband and wife, who evidently spent some time in jail or in prison, maybe even with the apostle Paul. He calls them “fellow prisoners.” They did that for Jesus sake, probably because of their testimony to faith in Christ and their commitment to Christ and to the church.

He says, “They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me.” They were in Christ before Paul means they were Christians before he was, and he says they were well known to the apostles. That could mean a couple of things. It could mean either that they had a great reputation among the 12 apostles, or it could also mean that they were highly acclaimed apostles themselves. If that’s the case, the sense of the word apostle here would be its more ordinary sense of messengers or people who are sent or commissioned from the church. You might think of missionaries. Paul uses that word, apostolos, in that way when he speaks of Epaphroditus in the book of Philippians. There were the 12 apostles, along with the apostle Paul, who were foundational office-holders in the church, people who had witnessed the resurrection of Jesus Christ, these are the foundational apostles of the church; but there were also these missionaries, these messengers of the church, and it’s apostle that Andronicus and Junia were among them.

One other thing to note here; in verse 12 Paul mentions “Nereus and his sister.” James Montgomery Boice, following William Barclay, brings a little history into the picture. He says that in A.D. 95 (that would have been several decades after the letter to the Romans was written), two of the most distinguished people in Rome were condemned for being Christians. They were husband and wife. Their names were Flavius Clemens and Domitila. Domitila was the woman who gave her name to the earliest Christian graveyard in Rome.

Flavius was executed; Domitila was banished to an island, probably because she was of royal blood, the granddaughter of former emperor Vespasian the niece of Domitian, who was the reigning emperor of the time. But the name of this couple’s chamberlain, a personal steward in their household, the name of their chamberlain was Nereus.

We don’t know for sure if it was the same Nereus, but it’s very possible that this Nereus that Paul addresses here in Rome was instrumental in leading this couple to faith in Christ, one of which became a martyr of the church, the other suffered through exile.

Then, of course, we’ve already noted the ministry of Phoebe, who was a deacon and a patron.

What I want you to see here is that this diverse group of people that Paul commends and addresses were characterized by their hard work and their sacrifice and their suffering in ministry for the Lord. There was a whole range of things that they were involved in, from hospitality, hosting a church in their home, to teaching, to giving and serving. But it was all considered work and ministry for the sake of the Lord.

What I think we all need to see is very simply this, that lay ministry—that is, ministry from ordinary Christians who are volunteers—should be normal in the church. In other words, ministry is not just for full-time pastors or missionaries, okay? I get paid for what I do, and I’m grateful for that incredible privilege. It’s a great blessing and I’m grateful for that. But that doesn’t mean that I’m meant to do all the work in the church. In fact, Ephesians 4 says that the reason that God gave certain gifts to the church, including the gift of pastors and teachers, is in order to equip the saints for the work of ministry. My job isn’t to do all of the work of ministry; my job is to equip you so that you can do the work of ministry!

What we see here in the church of Rome is that certainly there were numbers of people who were deeply involved, deeply committed to ministry; they were hard workers in the church. That should be true of every church. Every church should be made up of laypeople, ordinary Christians, who are hard at work in ministry and in service to Christ and to one another for the kingdom of God.

It’s been said that too often churches are like a football game, where you have 80,000 fans desperately in need of exercise watching 20 players desperately in need of rest. There is that 80:20 rule, where you often have 80 per cent of the work done by 20 per cent of the people, 80 per cent of the giving from 20 per cent of the people, 80 per cent of the encouragement from 20 per cent of the people.

Brothers and sisters, that should not be the case at Redeemer. Listen, I know of individuals—I could name them today—I know of individuals who are wearing three, four, five, six ministry hats in our church, who are working hard for Redeemer Church without any compensation, without any expectation of anything. They’re just doing it out of love for Christ. But I also know that there are some people in our church who show up on Sunday morning and that’s all they do. They’re not plugged in, they’re not serving, they’re not on the team. They’re just coming and receiving, but never giving anything back.

That should not be the case, and if that fits you, if that bites a little, if that’s a little bit convicting, then that’s a call, that’s a prompting, a need to get plugged in and get involved.

Let me just ask you this question: If someone were to write a letter to our church—let’s say an apostle was to write a letter to the Redeemer Church in Niles—would they name you as one of the hard workers at Redeemer Church? If not, then maybe it’s time to step up and do something.

I will just give a plug here for children’s ministry. It is one of the greatest ongoing needs at Redeemer Church, because I don’t know if you’ve noticed, we have a lot of kids in this church. That’s a blessing! There are some churches that would love to have more children in the nursery. There are some churches that would love to have enough kids that they need robust elementary worship during the service. We have that! We need workers. We need you to step up to the plate and help do that ministry.

Listen, it’s easier to do than ever before. We have people that can help lead that and guide that; we just need you to step up to the plate. Listen, you can serve one service and attend the next. Give an hour and 15 minutes on a Sunday morning, either at nine o’ clock or eleven o’ clock, and then attend the other service and worship. It should not be hard for us to get all of these bases covered. If everybody was doing their part, then we would have these positions filled, so please sign up and serve.

Gospel community is characterized by warm affection and family relationships, by social diversity, where you have friendships and relationships with people who are not like you, and by a commitment to hard work in ministry.

4. Gospel community flows out of our life-changing union with Jesus Christ

How do we become that kind of church? Point number four. Gospel community flows out of our life-giving, life-changing union with Jesus Christ. It’s easy to miss this, but I want you to just notice in the passage how often Paul uses the phrases “in Christ” and “in the Lord.” These are not throwaway phrases. Paul’s very intentional in his language here.

You see it in verse 2: “Welcome Phoebe in the Lord.” Verse 3, “Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus . . .” Verse 7, “Andronicus and Junia [were] in Christ before me . . .” That means they were Christians before Paul. The way Paul describes a Christian is to say they are in Christ. That is his characteristic description of a Christian.

The word Christian is only used three times in the New Testament, but the phrases “in Christ,” “in the Lord,” and their equivalents are used at least 165 times in the New Testament. This is the way the Bible talks about believers, people who are in Christ, they are in the Lord.

Verse 8: “Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord . . .” Verse 9, “Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ . . .” Verse 10, “Appelles, who is approved in Christ,” and verse 13, “Rufus, who is chosen in the Lord . . . .”

What a wonderful description of the Christian. It shows us here the importance of our union with Jesus Christ, being in Christ, and as well we might say of Christ being in us.

Sinclair Ferguson, in a wonderful book on the Christian life, says that “the doctrine of union with Christ lies at the heart of Christian experience.” Here’s why it’s the key to everything else: 2 Corinthians 5:17. This is what it says: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Brothers and sisters, what we’re looking at here, what we’re trying to describe and unpack from Romans, the nature of a gospel community, that’s supernatural. This kind of warm, affectionate relationships among people who are very different from one another, who are mutually committed to one another and to the work of the gospel and to something greater than themselves, the kingdom of God; people who are willing to risk their lives, put their lives on the line, sacrifice and suffer for the sake of Jesus together—that’s supernatural! Where does that come from? It comes from being in Christ! It comes from having your life changed, turned upside down and inside out and right sight up by Jesus Christ! It comes from knowing Christ in such a life-changing way that your old prejudices are gone, your old selfishness is gone, your old reluctance to give yourself away in ministry is gone. Instead, there’s this impulse to love and to serve and to give yourself to Christ and to others.

Brothers and sisters, we need that in our church. It comes from being in Christ. Has that happened to you? Is it true for you that the old has passed away and that the new has come, that you are a new creation in Christ? If so, that should be revealed and demonstrated and obvious in your relationships with others in the body of Christ.

The call I think is clear this morning: we are to be a gospel community following Jesus in partnership with others, a community marked by warm affection, by social diversity, by hard work and gospel ministry, all of it flowing out of our mutual love for Christ and the life-changing union that we have with Jesus Christ and then with one another.

Listen, to be united to Christ is to be united with the church. To be united with Christ is to be a son or a daughter of God and a brother and sister to everyone else who is in Christ. To be united with Christ is to be a branch abiding in the vine, it’s to be a living stone in this temple that is being built up as a habitation for God’s Spirit, for the glory of God. It is to be someone who is connected to the body of Christ, is a vital organ, a member. In the same way as in your body you can’t do without a heart, you want both of your lungs, you want both kidneys, you want all of your limbs, you want all of your faculties; to lose any of those things is to be in some way handicapped. In the same way, the church needs every member plugged in, serving, involved, engaged in the body of Christ. I hope that will be compelling enough for us this morning to change where we need to change and to jump in, plug in, and serve.

That’s the invitation. May God bless it to our hearts. Let’s pray together.

Lord, we thank you for this passage, we thank you for the lessons that it contains for us. What a challenge this is, Lord, to be this kind of a church. It’s something out of the ordinary, and it’s something that can only come through the power of your Spirit living and reigning within us, the power of Christ within us.

Lord, I just pray this morning that you would apply it to our hearts and help us, each one of us as individuals, help us examine ourselves and see where we need to change something. Maybe the appropriate response this morning for some is to go to the welcome table after the service and sign up, get involved. Maybe for some it’s to finally make a decision of where to land and become a member of Redeemer Church. For some it may be that they are not in Christ, and what they need this morning is a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ. Lord, you know; we pray that your Spirit would do the work.

As we come to the Lord’s table this morning, we ask you to help us recognize these elements as symbols of the body and blood of Christ, and recognize this communion meal as a symbol of not only our union with him but of our union and our fellowship with one another. We pray that you would be glorified as we continue in worship. We pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.