The Lord is near…REJOICE! (Philippians 4:4-7)

We gathered around the table.  People made a few comments about the windows (they are back).  There was laughter – esp. because more folks than usual were early/on-time.  We opened in prayer.

Then we checked-in, how was bringing peace during the week?  Some felt like some peace was brought to them, an unexpected gift received.  One prayed peace over their home/space and found that things that could have not been peaceful — were fine (AMEN!).  Someone helped create a space where someone else who was having a hard time could find peace.  We wondered about if we were talking about our own (a type of internal peace) was being discussed, a type of peace between people or in families, as well as what about the larger communities/nations; can we really influence a peace in the world?  And of course at some point we wondered, what exactly is peace?  Can we even agree on if/when peace has arrived or been brought?

As is the case, (always), we did not exhaust all the answers; in fact, we didn’t even name all the questions — and yet, we are called to be those who bring peace — and perhaps those who know peace too — may God be so gracious to equip us to know and offer peace — a peace that is rooted in Christ!  But we did shift from a conversation centered on peace to consider Scripture, Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (New International Version) 

It seems the feeling when hearing these verses is to breathe easier, to feel comforted by God.  People knew the truth of these verses, how indeed when we pray about what is heavy, when we lift it to God –we do breathe easier.  And yet, this is also a challenging invitation (how often do we resist doing what the verses say), we are asked much here and so — like the scripture, we have been asked much in the 3-part homework assignment:

  1. The scripture says “the Lord is near” — in Advent we are waiting for Christ to come again (for the in-breaking of God into our lives!) — so do you agree that the Lord is near?  What does that even mean?  And — how do you know the Lord is near?
  2. What is hardest in these verses?  (Rejoice always?  Letting your gentleness be known?  Not worrying/being anxious?  Praying your desires/requests?)
  3. On this 3rd Sunday of Advent, when we light the “joy” candle — does doing exactly what these verses say lead to & bring forth Joy?  (Yes or No and why?)

Y’all we are almost at Christmas, the time when we remember and celebrate the coming of God to us, in the most unexpected way — so I’m excited to hear your thoughts (as always!) this coming Sunday on these questions — to be blessed by the wisdom gathered around the table, to grow in Christ together.

In Christ & waiting ~
Rev. Sabrina Slater 

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