Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down… Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.
By Rev. Canon Val Kenyon
As we enter the season of Advent in preparation for our celebration of God coming to us in the Christ Child, we look back on this past year and have to acknowledge that it certainly has been filled with “storms” of all kinds.
There have been, of course, the weather events, as the earth copes with excesses caused by our poor stewardship of creation. There have also been the economic and health challenges fueled by the aftermath of Covid at its worst, and there have been the fractures and fragmentations on so many fronts as groups contrast and compare a whole variety of ways in which we interpret the world around us. Storms.
In Paul’s letter to the Philippians (Philippians 4:6-9) the Apostle is offering to these new Christians some very practical advice, a way, as it were, to live out their faith in the midst of the storms of life, promising a calm and peace-filled centre, supplying them with a sense of God’s wholeness, of things coming and working together, and even the power of this new way to unseat worry at its very core. Surely these are promises worth considering as we stand on the verge of both a new liturgical and calendar year.
Paul’s encouragement in the end, will boil down to several important points.
The first encourages us in our Christian life to shape our worries into prayers, that is, as worries crowd into our consciousness, instead of giving them free reign, we are urged to offer them up in requests to our God, relaxing our grip on them, sending them in God’s direction, for God attention.
The next encouragement of Paul’s is that we become quite particular about what we allow to fill our minds.
We will be tempted to open the door of our minds to many different influences and messages, but if we are to live as disciples of Jesus what we let in will make all the difference. We are asked to only give admission to that which is true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; our focus is to be on things to praise, not things to curse. Never easy, but there you have it.
We all know that with very little effort we can easily get drawn into a vortex of thoughts that are not so life giving, thoughts that instead of bringing peace, sow fragmentation and discord. There always seems to be pressure to shift our focus. In the end, it will be the things on which we set our gaze that will have the greatest influence over us.
So where will our focus be for 2023?
As disciples of Jesus part of our responsibility to our siblings in Christ, is to remind one another of these principles which of course we do whenever and wherever we gather to worship and to hear God’s word. As well, in our weekly meetings of EfM, as we make space for one another to explore together the many questions of faith, we do so in an environment that respects these encouragements.
If you are interested in learning more about all that is available to you in our Education for Ministry sessions, please reach out at any time to either Libi Clifford, the Diocese of Huron EfM Coordinator or myself Val Kenyon, Huron’s EfM Animator at firstname.lastname@example.org as we would be pleased to hear from you.
Rev. Canon Dr. Val Kenyon is EFM Animator in Huron.