seeing Philippians 4:4-9 as necessarily together

Looking at my now old (revised since then with Ralph P. Martin) Word Biblical Commentary: Philippians, by Gerald F. Hawthorne, I was especially noting how he ties Philippians 4:4-9 together as one whole, we might say one thought, so to speak.

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.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice.And the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:4-9

What we too often do is separate one part of scripture from the whole in an approach which while seeking to highlight God’s promises, fails to see them in their proper context.

First of all, we rejoice in the Lord always, being gentle in our demeanor, knowing that the Lord is near in the Presence of the Holy Spirit, and that he is coming soon. And instead of being anxious about anything, in every situation we pray with petitions and thanksgiving, presenting our requests to God. With the assurance that God’s peace which surpasses all understanding will prevail, guarding our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

To conclude this thought, we focus on all that is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, whatever is excellent or praiseworthy, fixing our thoughts on such things which often are held in common with humanity made in God’s image, thoughts in keeping with the Greek philosophical tradition of Paul’s day. And that is capped off with what is most important as to our impetus: following Paul as he followed Christ in the way of the gospel.

Something I want to be praying about and working on, to help me live out the truth in Jesus with others.

prayer for the Feast of Saint Philip and Saint James, May 1

Almighty God, who gave to your apostles Philip and James the grace and strength to bear witness to Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life: Grant that we, being mindful of their victory of faith, may glorify in life and death the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer

prayer for the sixth Sunday of Easter

O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer

the church is where it’s at

Until we’ve had more than enough, too much of our full attention has been given to politics, specifically the upcoming presidential election. Certainly important in its place, no doubt. And for many evangelical Christians today the work of the kingdom is about helping the poor and disenfranchised in this world, even more important than the election, if you can compare apples and eggs.

But the place where God is doing his kingdom work is no less than in and out from the church, both in terms of the church’s life and mission. The kingdom consists of a king, people, place, law (and directive) and life. God’s kingdom in scripture ends up being in King Jesus, of course a rich kingdom in its meaning and reality.

Today there is all kinds of debate as to what it means to be the church, what the church should be about, how God’s kingdom is related to that in the first place, etc., etc., etc. That is all well and good, and vigorous theological discussion and even debate is I think part of what it means for the church to read, pray, and think through with the goal of living out God’s will found in scripture.

But while we do that, let’s make sure we remain strong on square one. We surely have plenty to learn, and just as much need for growth in what we have been given, but we must beware of minimizing with the danger of losing out altogether on what God places front and center. It is humble and sometimes bumbling, in fact, with the likes of me, it’s going to bumble more than not. But that is where God’s work of the Spirit through the gospel in the sacramental and common life with a view to mission takes place. And in spite, I might add, of all of us. God’s Spirit in this is as alive in one faithful church or denomination, as another, and there are many- in spite of what differences we have.

The church is as important in its place as scripture itself. And much more important than the upcoming elections.


prayer for a wedding

Most gracious God, we give you thanks for your tender love in sending Jesus Christ to come among us, to be born of a human mother, and to make the way of the cross to be the way of life. We thank you, also, for consecrating the union of man and woman in his Name.

By the power of your Holy Spirit, pour out the abundance of your blessing upon Randy and Kim. Defend them from every enemy. Lead them into all peace. Let their love for each other be a seal upon their hearts, a mantle about their shoulders, and a crown upon their heads.

Bless them in their work and in their companionship; in their sleeping and in their waking; in their joys and in their sorrows; in their life and in their death.

Finally, in your mercy, bring them to that table where your saints feast for ever in your heavenly home; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer