I am fully satisfied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable, and pleasing to God.
In Meredith Willson’s great musical play The Music Man the people of River City, Iowa, are very excited as the Wells Fargo wagon comes into town. The young people, especially the boys, are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their musical instruments. Under the direction of Professor Harold Hill, the boys will begin rehearsing and the vision of the boys’ band he has shared with the townspeople will move closer to becoming a reality. But first they need to receive the musical instruments, so they sing, enthusiastically “Oh, ho the Wells Fargo Wagon is a’coming, Oh, ho the Wells Fargo Wagon is a’coming.” The Wells Fargo Wagon was the precursor of UPS and FedEx, so we can relate to their excitement. But then we can get excited when the Edible Arrangement, florist or other delivery person comes down our street, stops at our address, and then knocks on our door or rings our doorbell with a gift or package for us!
The character we are examining today is Epaphroditus, who is a delivery man/middle man. The Apostle Paul is the recipient and he is confined to prison in Caesarea, Ephesus or Rome, depending upon which scholar’s setting you accept. The apostle had spent time in Philippi and was held in high esteem by that congregation. It is through the Apostle Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians that we know “what we know” about Epaphroditus.
In Chapter 2 of Philippians, Paul identifies Epaphroditus as his brother, co-worker and fellow soldier. He also names him as the Philippians’ messenger and a minister to his need. While sojourning with Paul, Epaphroditus became homesick (longing for all of the Philippians) and physically ill, (nearly at death’s door). He was distressed that the Philippians had learned of his situation. God restored him to health and Paul was especially grateful.
Epaphroditus was the delivery man, having brought gifts to Paul from the Philippians. He was the middle man, the one between the apostle and the Philippians, who had brought a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. He brought great happiness to the apostle by delivering these gifts of love!
O God, whether laden with gifts or empty-handed, help us to bring some happiness to someone each day. Keep us mindful that sharing Christ’s love in word or deed can bring much happiness to others. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.