Today I served Holy Communion to two elderly sisters who lived by themselves in an apartment.
These two ladies were faithful in attendance and actively involved in the service at our church.
Age has taken a toll on them. They have lost part of their hearing and mobility is a challenge. Recently one of them had a fall and now the older sibling has to take care of the other. They are under our housebound list. Each time I visited them, I gave a short homily as they have not stepped into the church for over a year.
Here is what I shared.
At the close of his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul gave a triple tribute to a little known person by the name of Phoebe.
He called her, sister servant saint.
“I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also.” (Romans 16:1-2)
Firstly, the apostle regards Phoebe as a sister
Phoebe is more than just a friend or an acquaintance. Paul said, “I commend to you Phoebe our sister.”
She is a member of God’s family. She was born again. She is a sister in Christ. She is our sister.
Just so, the two elderly members who have been away from church for so long that they may be strangers to many. Yet the truth of the matter is they are our sisters.
Secondly the apostle Paul esteemed Phoebe as a servant.
He said, “I commend to you Phoebe … who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea … for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also.”
Phoebe was not a pew warmer who only goes to church. She is a “helper of many.” She is someone who has willing heart and working hands.
And there can be no greater tribute than to be called a servant of the church.
Thirdly, the apostle Paul called her a saint.
He wrote, “… that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints.”
Not that she has been canonized and to be venerated as such, Phoebe is someone made holy and becoming sanctified in Christ. Every passing year saw evidence of her becoming like Christ and therefore she is to be received “in a manner worthy of the saints.”
The triple tribute or affirmation does not belong to just Phoebe alone but also to all in the Church of Christ.
Can I call you, sibling servant saint?