We have already mentioned that this letter is the most uplifting and joyful of all Paul’s output. So now we arrive at the peak of peace and praise. “Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, Rejoice” (v.4). What could be clearer?
The word ‘rejoice’ comes all of nine times in this short letter (1:18-19, 2:17-18, 28, 3:1, 4:4, 10). And the word ‘joy’ appears five times (1:4, 25, 2:2, 29, 4:1). So Paul says things like “… and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I shall rejoice.” (1:18-19), and “I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.” (2:17-18).
It seems that Paul has learned to adopt the attitude of rejoicing. Whatever his circumstances (and often they were dire), and whatever the problems of the churches (and often they were in conflict and riddled with issues) he would rejoice.
We are not simply subject to our emotions. Normally speaking we need not give way to gloom and despondency (I am not talking about clinical depression). We can, by the presence of the joyous Holy Spirit within us, cultivate a spirit of praise and thanksgiving. Our ‘old nature’ may have learned patterns of negativity and morbidity, but our ‘new nature’ is fully capable of exulting in the Spirit.
This is what Jesus did. For instance it said, “In that same hour (Jesus) rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said …” (Luke 10:21). This is what the Psalmist prayed for, “”Fill me with joy and gladness … restore to me the joy of my salvation” (Psalms 51:8, 12).
The result of rejoicing is that we trust God and we don’t have a care in the world. This is how we “cast our anxieties upon him” (1 Peter 5:7), and how we learn to experience “the peace of God, which passes all understanding” (v.7). Why not set your mind to practice this day by day?
Thank you Father for the gift of rejoicing. Forgive me when I fail to put my whole trust in you. Amen.
Saturday 20th August at 7:30 pm.
Works by Vivaldi, Mozart and Paganini. Tickets available at Taunton Visitor Centre, Market House, Fore Street, Tel. 01823 340470. Tickets at the door (cash sales only) one hour prior to the concert.
Tomorrow, Sunday 21 August, is our Worship@5 and it’s dealing with the challenging subject of “Why Does God Allow Suffering?” with the musical company of Rosie on flute and Mary on violin, plus a chorus by my musical hero Brian Doerksen from the Vineyard movement, not to mention a chorus with the intriguing title of ‘10,000 reasons’ and a couple of powerful mainstream hymns.
This service is short (45mins) , begins with coffee and is informal in style. Why not give it a try and bring a friend or neighbour along?
Discord in the fellowship is grievous and hurtful to everyone. It also hinders the work of the Holy Spirit. It is essential that those responsible for pastoral care should be proactive in sorting out the problem. But how often do we ignore discord, hope it will go away, think it doesn’t matter or think it is none of our business?
Paul, however, is anxious to help the two women who have their horns locked in mortal combat, to sort out their disagreement or personality clash. We have no idea what was the problem of Euodia and Syntyche, but there is no need to know. Problems and disagreements abound in any community. Paul is more concerned that they are helped to work it through and come to an agreement.
People who are highly charged often reach a deadlock. They cannot see how to get out of their conflict. They are usually persuaded that each one of them is in the right. It is amazing how religion stirs up such deep feeling.
Maybe also these two were suffering from a personality clash. For all we know one of them could have been a ‘Martha’ type and the other a ‘Mary’. One felt the other wasn’t pulling her weight and the other felt her counterpart was unspiritual.
The matter was made worse by the fact that these two women were missionaries in some shape or form. Paul says that they had “laboured side by side with (him) in the gospel” (v.3). We are all responsible to pray for and help where we can if there is conflict in the fellowship.
Despite this running sore Paul is still positive. He refers to the church as “my joy and crown” (v.1), and that their “names are in the book of life” (v.3). He does not let a particular problem cloud his judgement. The people of the church are still God’s chosen ones, loved and special.
Thank you Lord that each one is precious in your sight. Help me to treat others as special and to resolve discords.
The latest volunteer chaplain will begin work at Tesco’s shortly. Taunton is one of the most developed places in the UK for the ministry of urban chaplaincy. Currently we have a vacancy for a chaplain to work in a nursing/ care home environment. Could God be calling you?
We can now give you the final figures for the Magdalene Fayre. After all expenses have been taken off and additional donations received the total stands at a wonderful £2111.96 (this includes the Coffee Shop takings for the morning of £231.50). The money goes towards our church’s mission and a major part of that is the £3000 we give towards the Taunton Town Chaplaincy. The short fall is made up from general funds but if you would like to help us give to the important work in our town please feel free to do so.
We are hosting the MU Diocesan Festival Service on 23rd August and you are most welcome to come come along. It begins in the churchyard at 1.00pm with a picnic. The service is at 2.30pm. We are celebrating 140 years since the Mother’s Union was founded. Our Vicar, Rod Corke will be preaching. It is open to all.
“I will be running a discipleship course called “Christianity Explored” in the autumn. This course is designed to help folk learn a bit more about the Christian faith in a friendly environment. There are seven sessions and the course will begin on Wednesday, 19th October. A sign up sheet will be at the back of church in the coming weeks.”
We are pleased to announce that we are well on our way to raising the £250,000 needed to restore our Father Willis organ, having raised £137,586 to date. This is an incredible amount and we would like to thank all for their generous donations. We so look forward to fully restoring our Father Willis.
Full details of the Organ renovation appeal and how you can help us by sponsoring a pipe (or pipes!) can be found on our Organ Project page.