When I send Artemas to you, or Tychicus, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. Make every effort to send Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way, and see that they lack nothing. And let people learn to devote themselves to good works in order to meet urgent needs, so that they may not be unproductive. All who are with me send greetings to you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with all of you
Today we come to the conclusion of Paul’s letter to Titus. This letter, together with the letter to Timothy are the last of his writings before Paul’s death. He writes from Nicopolis in the Epirus region of Greece where he is staying for the Winter. If Titus was to join him, then he would have to move quickly as the sea crossing from Crete was stormy and dangerous during winter. Paul ends his letter with personal greetings. We know nothing about Artemus as this is the only reference to him in our Bibles and other than giving us his name there are no other details, but Tychicus on the other hand was one of Paul’s trusted messengers. Paul is anxious that the pastoral work on the island continues. He wants the members of that congregation to feel supported.
For many years, the pastoral support of our local church has not been left to one person, the minister, but a group established to care for the wider community, both church attendees and the surrounding area including schools and organisations for the less able. As a group, they meet regularly with the minister to ensure he was/is aware of what is happening, even to people who use the building but are not worshippers. Equally, some friends have moved to other parts of the country, but contact has not been lost. From Essex those contacts spread from Mid Wales to Devon, Suffolk and the South Coast. The needs of individuals is important, and this was the intention of Paul!
Perhaps our emphasis should be moving from counting the numbers coming into church and replacing that with consideration as to how we as local churches can reach out into the local community. Many churches are now involved with the operation of local food banks, or perhaps play host to marginalised groups or individuals, so what is happening where you are?
Lord, so often we turn a blind eye to what is going on both around us. We see and hear of all sorts of hatred and conflicts, yet we do little or nothing.
Forgive us, Lord, forgive us when our own comfort and convenience becomes paramount.
Teach us your way of not counting the cost, but freely sharing Your love for us with all whom we meet, praying for guidance in Jesus’ name. Amen
The Rev’d Colin Hunt, retired minister worshipping at Hutton & Shenfield Union Church, Essex