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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, January 4, 2021  

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

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

Everyone I know is delighted that 2020 is behind us. Who could have imagined during Advent and Epiphany last year that we would be where we are—that we would have spent many months locked in, masked, not seeing close friends and family? It has indeed been difficult to rejoice, as Paul exhorts the church at Philippi in today’s text.

We have all tried to be gentle with ourselves and with others during this difficult time, but it has been challenging, to say the least, to “not worry about anything” when each time we leave our homes we are reminded to be careful by wearing our masks, staying socially distanced, washing our hands. And the strong advice from the public health community to stay home during the holidays has made the Thanksgiving to New Year’s period like no other. This regimen feels designed to make us worry!

But we also know that these measures—together with taking the recently approved vaccines when it is our turn—are intended to allow us to rejoice in 2021. They show our “gentleness” toward our community: in taking care of ourselves, we are also taking care of the greater society. I like to think about the safety measures and the vaccine as being akin to the gifts the magi brought to the Christ child. We are bringing these gifts to Christ and to each other. They will allow us to follow Paul’s advice and not worry but to bring supplications with thanksgiving to God in prayer.

On this eleventh day of Christmas, let us pray for healing, for rejoicing and gentleness all around, for the health care professionals and essential workers who have spent the past year taking care of all of us.

O God, in the words of Anne Lamott, we pray in the morning “help me, help me, help me,” to help us work on rejoicing, gentleness, and not worrying. We pray in the evening “thank you, thank you, thank you” for help with those things. And in Paul’s words, the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Written by Molly Baskin, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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