“Think About These Things”
“Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, rejoice.” Paul reminds us, that as people of faith, we are called, and able, to live a unique life. A life that enables us to rejoice in all situations, in times of happiness and in times of difficultly, in the midst of exciting changes and in the midst of stressful transitions, in the midst of all that life throws at us, all the ups and the downs, we are called to and promised, that “peace that passes all understanding.”
A great promise, a great gift, wonderful and poetic words, yet just how is it that we are able to truly “live out” Paul’s exhortation, “Rejoice in the Lord always?” Paul concludes this part of his letter to the Philippians with another exhortation, he invites them to “think about these things,” that which is true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. For it is in thinking about “these things” that we are able to “rejoice in the Lord always” and to live in that “peace that passes all understanding.”
So what are “these things?” I suppose they are different things for different people but I would like to suggest that for many of us they might be the things that we gather around in worship, the things that shape our faith communities, the things that bring the good news of the gospel into our hearts and minds.
I invite you to think about these things …
In between the lines of the pages in the bible a relationship awaits you. Martin Luther described the scriptures as the “manger” in which we find “the baby Jesus.” We gather around these words and listen to these words looking to make a connection to the living word of God, awaiting the times and places where our lives will become part of the gospel story, seeking the truth about life, and our calling in life.
The Waters of Baptism
Martin Luther reminded us that we need to return to these waters daily in remembrance of our baptism; that we should dip our fingers into the waters and make the sign of the cross, and remember that in our baptism we became nothing less than the beloved children of God. This action is not magical, it does not make the difficulties of life suddenly disappear, but Luther proclaimed that no adversity could totally overwhelm him, as long as he knew who he was, a beloved child of God.
The Bread and Wine
In bread and wine we find a meal that creates and sustains the holy community, the holy communion; a meal in which we proclaim that Christ has died, Christ is risen, and that Christ will come again; a meal in which God is fully present for us, in – with – and through the bread and the wine so that we can taste and see that the Lord is good; a meal that is the very presence of the kingdom among us.
The Cross of Christ
The cross of Christ, for me theologian Dan Erlander, says it best, “The theology of the cross is meeting God where (God) chooses to find us – in our sorrow, our pain, our weakness; and hearing God’s gracious word manifest in the death of Jesus on the Cross.” Once again not a magical place, not some lofty mountain top, but rather a very real place, in the midst of our most human moments, that’s where God meets us, that’s where heaven and earth connect. The Cross proclaims that we are loved and that we are not alone.
These are some of the things I like to think about, to hold central in my thoughts. They are foundational in my understanding of God, they proclaim the truth about God, the truth about love, the truth about faith, the truth about freedom, the truth about life, and the truth about peace.
“Think About These Things”
Whatever is true, Whatever has honor Whatever is just and pure, lovely and full of grace If there is any excellence, If there is anything worthy of praise Think about these things, Think about these things When you’re feeling all alone Think about these things When your heart has turned to stone Think about these things Think about these things Whatever is true, Whatever has honor Whatever is just and pure, lovely and full of grace If there is any excellence, If there is anything worthy of praise Think about these things, Think about these things When confusion haunts your mind Think about these things When all you know is the hard times Think about these things Think about these things Whatever is true, Whatever has honor Whatever is just and pure, lovely and full of grace If there is any excellence, If there is anything worthy of praise Think about these things, Think about these things When the world turns dark with despair Think about these things Remember I am standing there Think about these things Think about these things Don’t let anything get you down, Put your feet on solid ground Whatever is true, Whatever has honor Whatever is just and pure, lovely and full of grace If there is any excellence, If there is anything worthy of praise Think about these things, Think about these things Think about these things and the God of peace will be with you Think about these things and the God of peace will be with you Think about these things …
May God’s peace, which surpasses all understanding, guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
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4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, beloved, 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. 9 Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.