Philippians 4: 4–8
Paul was not living in a bubble of bliss when he wrote to the
Philippians. Like us today, he was in very challenging circumstances
– in prison for preaching about the resurrected Christ who had
appeared to him and commissioned him to go out and make
disciplines of all, even the gentiles. Like us today, he knew what it
meant to be confined indoors, isolated from loved ones. Despite this,
St. Paul is here telling believers to ‘rejoice in the LORD always’.
Is he asking us to deny the reality of our present challenges of a raging
global pandemic, unprecedented changes in our way of life, constant
changes in guidelines and rising death tolls? I believe not.
St. Paul is, however, telling us to centre our thoughts on the source
and reason of our faith. Deciding to rejoice in the LORD always is not
based on the sunny optimism of ignorant bliss but provides a positive
mental attitude and confidence that God is in control. This will have a
rippling effect on all around us.
One major effect will be our obvious capacity to replace our anxiety
and worry and constant negative thoughts with thoughts that are
noble, right and admirable, enabling and empowering us to bring our
specific requests, with thanksgiving, to God in prayer. This results in
the unruffled serenity of God’s peace, which is beyond every human
capability to understand or explain, and can only be experienced.
As we prepare for the coming of our LORD and Saviour, may our
thoughts rise beyond the challenges of our present times to the One
who took on flesh and lived as one of us to provide us access to the
enduring Hope, Light and Peace of God.
Heavenly Father/Mother, we come as we are today to lay out all our
concerns, and all that makes it difficult to rejoice always in you. Heal our
relationship with you and empower us to lift our faces towards your
unfailing love and mercy. By the power of your Holy Spirit, help us to
rejoice always and with grateful hearts, knowing that you are in total
control. Use us to bring your light, joy, peace and love to all around in this
season of preparation. In Jesus’ name we pray, with thanksgiving. Amen.