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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Philippians 4:4–7

Rejoice in the Lord always; and 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 b e made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Is there anything more gentle than a newborn? The soft skin; the cooing and gurgles; the delicacy of little fingers and toes; and, of course, the utter vulnerability. All of these combine to create in us a fullness and an unconditional love that we feel as we hold the baby. New life, filled with possibility and hope. But there is also some anxiety too. What will life bring to this child? Life is complex and messy.

Paul’s life was complex and messy for sure. He wrote this letter in a time of great anxiety, while he was imprisoned. Yet even in that most difficult time, he was able to write of rejoicing and living gently because of his trust that God was always with him. “The Lord is near.” Near not physically, but within and around us always; our guardian and our strength through all the complexity and messiness of life.

When we are most overwhelmed by daily life, stressed out by fear-mongering and violence, afraid of and for the future of our planet, we have a guardian. “The Lord is near.” New life has come to us in the flesh of an infant, love embodied. Even in our darkest moments, even with all of our doubt and fear, we need not worry.

The infant resting in those meager circumstances in Bethlehem is our new beginning. Paul’s message to us in this season is to hold the newborn Christ in our arms, live into his promise, embrace his guardianship, and feel the fullness of unconditional love. In other words, “Rejoice in the Lord always.”

Lord, I lift up my anxieties and my hopes in gratitude for your watchfulness and care. Let me feel your nearness each day. Hear my prayer that I may live into the promise of the child of Bethlehem. Amen.

Written by Ken Ohr, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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