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January 24 Post

“Finally, brothers and sisters, 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.”  From Philippians 4:9

 

When Paul wrote these words to the fledgling faith community at Philippi, they were in deep conflict with one another. Though his letter doesn’t name the source of their separation and subsequent suffering, he wrote it to encourage them during a time of great division and discouragement.

 

In the midst of their unnamed strife, he gave them a profound gift. Paul showed them a path forward through the mire to peace. One of my colleagues gave me a similar gift years ago when a group of church leaders were scrapping over some issue that bore more weight than it should. I struggled with how to help them resolve their conflict. She said to me, “Feed what you want to grow.”

 

Feed what you want to grow. Paul encouraged the leaders of his church to think about things that are true, and honorable and just and pure and pleasing and commendable and excellent. Look for the good news every day and you will find it. Search for those God moments worthy of praise and they will be given to you.

 

We have a tendency instead to relish the national past time of mud wrestling. We cheer the one or ones we want to win and heckle the ones we already imagine to be losers. Such activities are juicy and satisfying for five seconds, but they almost always leave a bitter taste in your mouth and leave you wanting.

 

When we look at the world around us, we have choices about how we will respond. Will we praise the Creator for this spectacular day and all that is in it, or will we scan the horizon for the car crash and chaos that ensues? Will we purse our lips and stamp our feet at the wicked ways of X, Y, Z? Or will we feed that which will bring us joy and make for peace?

 

These questions remind me of the words of another faith leader from an earlier time. “Choose you this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Feed what you want to grow, and God’s peace beyond human understanding will be with you.

 

Prayer: God of heaven and earth, when the ways of the world invite us to stumble, grant us the faith to look up and walk towards your light. Amen

 

God’s grace, mercy and peace be with you,

 

Rev. Dr. Anna V. Copeland

Senior Minister, The Community Church of Vero Beach

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