Think About These Things
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious 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.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. As for the things that you have learned and received and heard and noticed in me, do them, and the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:4-9 NRSV
Recently, I have been reflecting on Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi. Paul writes a letter of encouragement to the fellowship of believers telling them no matter what the circumstance to “Rejoice, rejoice always,” despite the fact that he is in prison.
“Do not be anxious about anything,” is easier said than done. Yet, Paul reminds us In all of life to pray, petition, and give thanks to God who is as close as the very breath we take. In so doing, a sense of peace that is far beyond any human understanding will envelop us, guarding our hearts and minds.
Paul invites us to reframe our attention from whatever leads us down that rabbit hole of anxiety to see whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, any excellence or anything worthy of praise. This wisdom holds true for us today. Numerous current issues and the midterm elections are critical to sustain our fragile democracy, our earth and so much more. It is so easy to jump down that rabbit hole of fear and anger rather than find anything worthy of praise.
In thinking about his passage, I found myself asking, “What is true? What is just and pure? What is pleasing, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise?” I suspect If we asked those questions to ten people in a random survey, we would have a dozen or more answers.
November 2, activist, author, film director Paola Mendoza spoke at Scarritt Bennett about her work and what sustains her in working for women and children, in particular immigrants seeking asylum and safety. She described that at first her rage was fueled by anger that was all consuming and exhausting. Through her art and hearing the stories of heroic women who endured horrific conditions to save their children and themselves, she began to see that rage in the best sense comes from a place of love. It is anger transformed by passionate love of people.
Mendoza shared “Hope is a discipline,” that does not deny the harshness of reality. Rather, the power of love can sustain us in the work that needs to be done in bringing down unjust, destructive systems of power, and building a better world for all. It takes work and a mindset that can not only see the possibilities but believe we will be able to achieve a more just, safe, and peace-filled world for all peoples. It takes community working together bearing witness to one another, realizing we all have a part of building kin-dom as God intends. Ask the questions. Dig deep for clarity and Spirit led wisdom within and among you.
Finally, brothers and sisters, what is true, what is honorable, what is just, what is pure, what is pleasing, what is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. As for the things that you have learned and received and heard and noticed in me, do them, and the God of peace will be with you.
May God’s peace sustain and encourage you!