Paul, in prison, writes to the Christians at Philippi in Macedonia:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:1-9
The Christian community at Philippi was one of the earliest founded by Paul, and remained a place of great affection for him for many years. The letter, or compilation of letters, that we have included in the New Testament is short, just four chapters long. In those four chapters, however, Paul gives us some of the most loving advice and encouragement in scripture. Despite being in prison, with little hope of release, Paul encourages them to carry on, to look for the best and most commendable, and to rejoice!
I have been following the news of wildfires in California, with the loss of thousands of homes and acres, and the increasing news of deaths. It is tragic on so many levels. This morning, however, I heard an interview with a woman whose home had been ravaged by fire a few days ago. She had been able to return to what was left of that home, and was carrying an armload of clothing salvaged from the devastation. Her comment: “I feel so fortunate that I have laundry to do.”
I have thought a lot about her words. There was no bitterness in her voice, only a gratitude for some little bit of normalcy in the midst of so much chaos and loss. She reminded me of how I want to be in this world. Think on these things. Focus on the things that bring life. Be grateful for God’s grace, for that is what will carry us through the worst life can hand us. And do those things that can share God’s grace with the world.
Let us pray:
Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us, that we may continually be given to good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Peace and blessing,