Reflection for OS28, Sunday October 11, 2020 Epistle Reading: Philippians 4.1-9: Rejoice in the Lord

Reflection for OS28, Sunday October 11, 2020

Epistle Reading: Philippians 4.1-9: Rejoice in the Lord always!

The Epistle reading takes us again to Philippi. Paul clearly values the Philippian converts – he addresses them as beloved and longed for, his joy and crown. Despite this effusive greeting Paul goes on to admonish two women who apparently could not get on. They need to ‘be of the same mind in the Lord’. Other church members are encouraged to help the women to reach a common mind. We do not know what the dispute was about, but unity is important and Paul wants them all to put aside personal disagreements for the good of the church. Paul’s message applies just as much today as in the first century. Christian unity is an overriding priority. It is easy to forget this in the heat of debate. Divisive issues today include sexuality issues which have led some parishes into schism.

Paul chooses his words carefully to describe the virtues which accompany unity. He says ‘ let your gentle courtesy be known to all’. The Greek word is epieikeia and it has a range of meanings which convey the idea of graciousness. The noun only occurs 3 times in the NT and at 2Cor 10.2 it is applied to the behaviour of Jesus. We are to approach others also with rejoicing – ‘Rejoice in the Lord always and again I will say it, Rejoice’. As Christians we have a wonderful gospel message, there is much to rejoice about. ‘The Lord is near’. There is no need for anxiety. Our prayer is to bring our requests to God, but always with thanksgiving. The outward result of such prayer is God’s peace, standing guard over our hearts and minds.

This teaching about prayer is salutary as we begin a new ministry in our parish. There can be no better foundation than prayer. And we can set alongside this the teaching about gentle courtesy and this gives us ideals for a new ministry.

Rev Dr Calum Gilmour

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