Focus Scripture: Philippian 4:4-8
From my point of view, bad news lurks all around us these days. It bombards us through political discord, violence, and brutality, celebrities misbehaving, lies dressed up as truth – you name it! It seems that the world is conspiring to frustrate us, anger us, defeat us, or maybe simply to make us sad.
During this Lenten season, I have chosen to rebel against such negativity. My Lenten sacrifice is to give up things that cause dis-quietness in my spirit.
In these sacred days of reflection and sacrifice, I choose to BE – to exist quietly with my thoughts and feelings, to reflect and to muse. I prefer to immerse myself in silence or with soft music playing in the background.
After a while, the distress vaporizes. It vanishes as I sit in the presence of my God. Soon, I feel a resurgence of joy, that special gift God gave me just because God loves me. In God’s presence, my joy rises, like a prayer, in my spirit.
My foremothers used to talk about joy: “The world didn’t give it to you. The world can’t take it away,” they declared with defiance. They had every right and reason to shout out against their circumstances. They remained silent. Who knew? They engaged in blessed quietness as an act of rebellion! Stillness as an act of holy resistance!
In his letter to the Philippians (4:4-8, NRSV), the Apostle Paul expresses a similar idea:
4 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.
8 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.
Holy God, when we come into your presence during this Lenten season, help us to rejoice amid the turmoil. Help us to neutralize the woes of the world with the wonders of your grace. Help us to know your joy – for the world didn’t give it to us, and the world can’t take it away. In all things, we give your glory. Amen.