Carving the Grand Canyon

Hopping Hadrian's Wall

Sermon from North Presbyterian Church

Click here to read the biblical text

Today’s Epistle, St. Paul’s letter to Philemon, is one of the smallest books of the Bible. In it, we hear Paul asking a big favor from his friend Philemon.

The back story is this: Philemon was a wealthy convert to Christianity who was personally mentored by Paul. As was common in those days, he owned slaves. One slave, named Onesimus, escaped from his master and went to live in another city, where he too came into contact with St. Paul and converted to Christianity. Onesimus was zealous in his faith and active in the ministry of the Church, especially as Paul himself was in prison.

This development put Paul in a predicament. On the one hand, he had a fugitive slave in his company. Roman imperial law clearly dictated that such a person should be returned to his…

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