Across the Pastor’s Desk: ‘Rejoice in the Lord always’
Across the Pastor’s Desk by Todd Walsh
Let me begin with the lyrics of a children’s song.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I say rejoice.”
Those words may seem a pipe dream and out of touch with reality in the midst of today’s frightening headlines and foreboding news clips, but those words come from the Bible. They are Philippians 4.4. And they can speak well of these days.
I find the verse remarkable.
If the Philippians Christians are being reminded to rejoice in the Lord, then there must have been some cause to not rejoice in the Lord. They were in fact a community facing adversity, and yet they held together as a community, and they held with their faith in God.
They are told to rejoice twice, in the same verse. This repetition is very unusual. The word to rejoice is repeated to make the point. Rejoice is what they are to be about in their faith and lives.
Then they are given another encouragement in how they treat one another.
“Let your gentleness be known to everyone.”
Would you agree those are good words for these days? Would you agree those are good words for any day?
Then we are given another very short sentence.
“The Lord is near.”
Are those words a threat or are they encouragement? Why lay down a threat in the midst of encouragement? The reason for the encouragement becomes clear with the next words. God is near and hears our prayers.
We are told, “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
I fully realize that one of the dumbest things you can say to a person who is in difficulty is, “Don’t worry.”
But notice what we are told to do with our worry in this passage. We are reminded to give our worry to God through prayer. If our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ can bear the sin of the world, that same savior can bear the cause of our worry.
Finally, we are offered a blessing.
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
God offers us peace through our prayerful conversation with our Lord. Will you not agree that peace can also come in our relationships with one another when our gentleness guides our words and actions?
And that is what we are told in the final section of this little pep talk from two thousand years ago.
“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.”
I hope you hear that little children’s song speak volumes to our lives today and the circumstances that cause us fear and worry. May you find the words of that little song guiding your word and actions. May that little song fill your heart with life for today.
Todd Walsh is director of spiritual care services at Thorne Crest Senior Living Community in Albert Lea.