2018-2019 Chapel Theme: "Participation in the Gospel"
Our theme this year comes from a phrase Paul used when praising the Philippians for their faithful Kingdom work. He wrote that he prays with joy because of their “participation in the Gospel” (Phil. 1:5). The word translated “participation” is the Greek word “koinonia.” The big question for us all year has been, what does it mean to koinonia with the Gospel? The New Testament speaks of our koinonia with each member of the Godhead (1 Jn 1:3; 1 Cor 1:9; Phil 3:10; 2 Cor 13:14; Phil 2:1). It states that such koinonia with the Godhead results in a changed life (1 John 1:6; 2 Cor. 6:14; 2 Peter 1:3-4) and a future hope (1 Pet. 5:1; 1 Pet 4:13). It is upon this salvific hope and changed life that the koinonia we share with one another as Christians is founded (1 Jn 1:7; Philemon 6; Titus 1:4; Jude 3). Furthermore, our koinonia is not a mere abstract concept, but is made manifest by our gatherings (Acts 2:42-46). And within those gatherings, the things we do have some participation in the body and blood of Jesus (1 Corinthians 10:14-22). The most common use of the word, or a variation of it, in the New Testament refers to the giving of a financially contribution (i.e. Heb. 13:16; Rom. 15:26; 2 Cor. 8:4, 9:13), sharing with another’s troubles (i.e. Phil. 4:14) or showing hospitality to those in need (i.e. Rom. 12:13). In these passages, koinonia seems to be more than mere benevolence; it is an sharing of our lives with those in need that results in a sum greater than the individual threads on their own. In other words, “participation,” as the New Testament speaks of it, is a deep and all-encompassing thing. It is an complete interweaving of the entirety of our lives with another.
What does it mean to interweave our lives with the Good News of what God in Christ has done and is doing and will do for this world He so loves? That question rests at the heart of our chapel services this year. If we are to remain faithful to our university’s mission in extending the Kingdom of God among all nations, it will take more than believing the Gospel, more than learning about the Gospel, more than even proclaiming the Gospel—though all of those things are necessary. In order to extend God’s Kingdom, we must participate in the Gospel, we must interweave our lives with the story of Christ for the sake of the world.