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Daily Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, February 28, 2022  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Philippians 2:1–13  

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God,  
   did not regard equality with God
   as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
   taking the form of a slave,
   being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
   he humbled himself
   and became obedient to the point of death—
   even death on a cross.

Therefore God also highly exalted him
   and gave him the name
   that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
   every knee should bend,
   in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess
   that Jesus Christ is Lord,
   to the glory of God the Father.

Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (NRSV)

Normally when I try to write a devotion, I dwell on the parts that strike me. Whatever gets the biggest reaction from me is where I try to dwell and wrestle. This poetry in the middle about Christ’s humility is tough to fathom. Also, in verse twelve “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”—Kierkegaard references notwithstanding, what the fruitcake is that about? I have no idea. 

This week I need to focus on the first three verses. It’s just where I am right now. As I read the passage again and again, what is really tugging at me is the longing for all that is described in those first three verses. I need encouragement in Christ. I need consolation from love. I need sharing in the Spirit. I need compassion. I need sympathy. 

It seems to be describing our church family when we are at our best. The life-giving fellowship we have together. For me, these verses might describe my theater community also or my family of origin. They have been truly there for me lately, affirming me and urging me onward. 

It’s not that I don’t have encouragement, consolation, sharing: I am deeply blessed. But these needs never dissipate. Being alive, getting older, and going forward are hard. Remembering who I am, centering myself as difficult decisions need to be made, bolstering myself as I work through fatigue and fear—I need these verses. I really need Fourth Church. It’s a “rinse and repeat” kind of deal. 

So here I dwell. Here I wrestle. Grounding myself and bolstering myself for what is next. 

Dear God, please help all of us in our church family reach for one another. Help us encourage, console, and share with one another. Help us be together. We need each other. We need you. Amen.

Written by Kat Evans, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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