Philippians 4:4-7, Advent 3 C, December 13, 2015
Grace and peace be unto you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
For so many of us, we cannot find joy this Advent. So many of us are grieving over loved ones. We all are grieving for D. W.. Others are frustrated by the hate against strangers that is spewing all over the internet. So many of us are finding short tempers in ourselves and those around us. With all of this weighing on our hearts, how can we find the space in our hearts to rejoice?
In these times when so many of us are overwhelmed by sadness, anger, or both, we struggle in so many ways. The passage from Philippians has a few words of encouragement for us. Edward Pillar finds five pieces of good news for us in this passage. http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2696
First, hold on to the joy to be found in God (Philippians 4:4).
A simple way for us to hold onto the joy of the Lord is to look around us every day. Despite our grieving, the Lord still gifts us with beauty. In particular, the sunrises along the river are simply gorgeous.
Second, hold on to the character of Christ (Philippians 4:5).
Political analysts on cable channels are so often at each others' throats. We have come to expect that sort of language - a sad sign of our times. Yet Krista Tippett, on her podcast On Being, always talks in a quiet, soothing voice. Her show usually focuses on faith, yet she talks to a wide range of people. No matter the topic, Krista Tippett is able to keep her interviewees calm and collected.
Third, hold on to the nearness of God (Philippians 4:5).
Every weekday morning when I say some words of prayer in my office, I light a candle. I find that the flicker of the candle flame reminds me how close God is. I know that God is listening to my prayers.
Fourth, pray with thankfulness (Philippians 4:6).
Although our prayers are often long and filled with requests, we have so much to be thankful for. Despite our grieving and our yearning for the health of our loved ones, sometimes we need to step back, quiet down, and simply pray, "thank you Lord."
Fifth, God’s peace will be our guard.
We can trust in the Lord to protect us from all that comes our way. Thanks be to God! Amen.