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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 (Philippians 4: 4 – 7).

In these days of uncharted waters, it is difficult to have a sense of peace and calm because of what is happening around us. It is perfectly understandable that we feel this way. The Bible passage above reminds us of one very important thing, “The Lord is near.”

God the Holy Spirit inhabits the whole cosmos; there is nowhere where the Spirit is not. We are to be encouraged, but it can be hard to trust in this idea during a time like this.

In Philippians 4: 4 – 7 Paul gives us a route into a place of peace. I do not mean to point to this as a platitude. It will be difficult to arrive here as we are concerned about our current situation, but it is my hope this will be helpful.

To rejoice comes from a Jesus-centred confidence that he is who he says he is, “God with us,” and that we are who he says we are, the beloved of God. It is through understanding these two things that we are able to cultivate joy in our lives.

Paul then moves us on to the idea of gentleness. As with joy, this is part of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5: 22 – 23), and through it he takes us beyond ourselves.

When we are all stirred up by a situation, it is easy to shoot from the hip — to say and do things we will later regret. If we are able to find that place of peace which Jesus gives, then gentleness is possible.

This gentleness is to be known to everyone. As we are able and as long as it is safe for us to do so, we can find places to help in our communities. There will be people to contact, help with obtaining groceries and medical supplies and being encouragers to those who are struggling. Paul says we are to do these things gently.

In this passage we are told not to worry, which I have to say for me is easier said than done. With my parents being so far away and little chance of my getting to see them should they become infected, I have to say I am very concerned.

Paul says to all of us that we are to bring our prayers and requests to God. To be in prayer is to be in the presence of God. I need to do that. I have to remember to adore God, confess my sins, bring thanksgivings and to make my requests (supplications) to God. I think this applies to many of us.

It is through doing these things that we discover that we are entering into the peace of God which passes understanding.

Paul then takes us further: the peace which we receive will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. It is Jesus who is at the centre of things, and as we move into peace, we will discover him there, but the apostle reminds us that it is our hearts and minds that need guarding.

Many of the fears we face come from these two sources: the heart, that is, our emotions, and our minds, that place where we work things out. They feed each other, and it is the intervention of peace from God which can break that cycle.

During these uncertain days, be assured of my prayers for you. I ask for your prayers for me as we seek the peace of God which passes all understanding.

 

 

10 Comments


Nancy Stephens 8 months ago

Amen! Thank you for this encouraging message.


Linda Dianne Craft 8 months ago

Thank you for those words of encouragement. You and all staff are always in our thoughts and prayers. as well as Geoffrey Hall and all Cathedral Staff. Hope all will stay as safe as possible.
John & Dianne Craft, Christ Church, Bloomfield.


Betty Matheson 8 months ago

Well said, David, I quoted that scripture to a distraught friend and fellow parishioner today and the living Word soothed her mind. One of my go to’s . Thankyou for your encouragement. You and Debby are certainly in my prayers. blessings.


Canon Vicars Hodge 8 months ago

Thank you Bishop David for putting some important scriptural assurances and challenges before us.


John Cathcart 8 months ago

Thanks Bishop David.


ernest clarke 8 months ago

As you assured us, "the Lord is near", and he is speaking through you to inspire us all as we pass through this pandemic. Thank you so much for your words. While Nancy and I stay calm and stay home, we will watch Spring unfold, paint and carve, and cultivate the 'liturgy of the ordinary'. Ernest and Nancy Clarke, Hartland


Shirley Noseworthy 8 months ago

Thank you, Bishop David, for sharing these words of encouragement and comfort. Would like to see you do this or something similar as a video to be shared on Facebook!


Beresford Price 8 months ago

Thank you Bishop for your words of encouragement. We fail sometimes in keeping Christ centered in our lives, and we need reminding from time to time. Continued prayers for you, your family, and staff, and all of our brothers and sisters. Let us all stay safe, and be mindful " the Lord is near". Peace and Blessings.


Eleanor Linton 7 months ago

Thank you for your message. We all need to be praying for one another.
God Bless!!


Patrick Guignard 7 months ago

Thank you Bishop David.
Sometime ago I read a poem called "Foot Prints." I took it as a promise from God that if we keep our faith and believe in him, he will be there in our hour of need. As the poem ends. " My Child my precious son, I love you and would never leave you. When you see only one set of foot prints in the sand. It is then that I carried you."

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