Tag Archives: philippians

Advent e-votions, day 11

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Philippians 4.4-7

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.

If you ask anyone when Christmas is they will say December 25th. The day when smiles are easy to give and there is common ground to start a conversation with almost any stranger, Christian or not. Not everyone experiences this great joy and love-sharing feeling, but I will venture to say the majority of us do. I’m not going to say we forget the reason for Christmas because we are reminded of the story every year. I am wondering what would be different if every day was treated as Christmas. Maybe this is also a common theme: why are you rushing around? Love people now. But just taking another minute out of life with me to picture the difference this life change could make…going to bed at night excited to fall asleep knowing that you will be waking up to a wonderful day, putting aside work for a full 24 hours in order to be with the people who matter most, having your eyes opened to the blessings in your life.
I cannot say every Christmas will be a picture-perfect one or that every day can be easily treated with such joy, but why don’t we try? Why are we so anxious for that one day when we can easily rejoice in God and spread God’s love? “The Lord is at hand.” Not just on Christmas, but every day of every year. Let’s allow our gentleness to be known to man. And every time we feel anxious for the joys of the future, let’s ask ourselves, why not rejoice right now? If you have time to pull up a YouTube music video, search through your iTunes, or pull out your Christmas CD collection, I recommend you listen to a song that captures this idea, Celine Dion, Don’t Save it All for Christmas Day:

Don’t get so busy that you miss
Giving just a little kiss
To the ones you love
Don’t even wait a little while
To give them a little smile
A little is enough

How could you wait another minute?
A hug is warmer when you’re in it
And that’s a fact
And saying “I love you” is always better
Seasons, reasons, they don’t matter
So don’t hold back
How many people in this world
So needful in this world
How many people are praying for love?

Prayer
Loving God, thank you for showing us what love is. Help us to celebrate and share your love with everyone, not just one day of the year, but every day. Amen.

–may the Spirit move through the words of Anna Zoerner

Advent e-votions, day 8

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Philippians 1.3-11
I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that on the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.

The Apostle Paul and I have a lot in common. We’re both men, we’re both mortal … OK, after that, the comparison breaks down a bit. Paul relentlessly spread the Good News (not to be confused with the Easy News, although I keep hoping someone will find it in an old clay jar somewhere). Unlike Paul, I am more inclined to either decline or recline – that is, to sidestep an opportunity to serve God (“too busy,” “not qualified,” or, my personal standby, “let’s give others a chance”) or to lie down, take a nap and hope that either the need or I will pass before anyone asks me again.

Fortunately for me, we are in this together. As Brother Paul reminds us, we are partners in the gospel. Are there practical benefits to this mutual responsibility? Of course. When Carol Hoefer says you are wanted to serve, called to serve, needed to serve on the nominating committee, go ahead and try to say no. Or try to say no to Pastor Teri, or to the Music Director, but do so at your own risk. Kidding (sort of) aside, if we wait for the perfect moment to say yes to God’s call, we may have a long wait indeed.

More powerful than any sense of duty, however, is that we are bound to one another and to Christ by God’s grace. The community of Christ is not a club we choose to join because we are swell people who want to bask in the glow of other swell people. Rather, God chooses us, all of us. And the love between us all is not the love of Dave and Sherri and Teri and Carol, or even Paul, but rather the love of Jesus.

Christ’s love liberates good works from the realm of self – our guilt, our doubts, our pride, our personal agendas. Because they are not “our” good works. They are God’s good works carried out in us and through us, whether or not we see them completed. Many of the best good works, in fact, seem to live well beyond us, in other times, places and faces, bearing the fruit of righteousness.

Prayer
Thank you, God, for partners in ministry. Thank you for the good work you do through me. Help me to work with you and your people, that all I do will bear fruit in your world. Amen.

–may the Spirit move in the words of David Dees