Power Reversals

Rachel Bush

READ : Philemon 1-25 Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful both to you and to me. (v. 11 NRSV) A young man attended classes at an esteemed theology school. While he studied there, he fell into frequent conversation with the groundskeeper. Over time, they discussed many issues of faith, the church, and God. By the time he graduated the young man found that the groundskeeper had taught him more about God and the world …

Messy Paths to Good Change

Rachel Bush

READ : Philemon 13-16 Perhaps this is the reason he was separated from you for a while, so that you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a beloved brother. (vv. 15-16 NRSV) There are few calamities as sudden and devastating as a wildfire. In wilderness areas wildfires occur unexpectedly, claiming houses, forests, and even human lives. Damage and ruin are unavoidable. But from this chaos, life springs anew—new trees and grasses, …

Sharing Our Hearts

Rachel Bush

READ : Philemon 8-12 I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you. (v. 12 NRSV) Like the silver mesh of the front porch screen through which the soft breezes blow, our hearts are permeable. Growing close to others brings us both great joy and sometimes immense pain. But learning to love others, even experiencing conflict that brings growth, are ways we share our hearts and transform one another. Onesimus spent time living with Paul and learning …

When the Spirit Changes Our Shape

Rachel Bush

READ : Philemon 1–7 I have indeed received much joy and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you. (v. 7 NRSV) Looking down over the canyon's edge, I watched the water flowing freely and gently along the riverbed. I was filled with amazement as I considered how this clear stream had carved away layers of clay and stone. The power of the moving water changed the structure of the solid earth beneath …