During Lent, our practice at Augustana is to gather midweek for a meal and brief worship. We can’t meet face-to-face, but we can share and encourage one another electronically. Check in midweek each Wednesday as people share their favorite scripture passages and why they speak to them in this uncertain time.
A Lenten Meditation from Jean Nye on Philippians 4:4-7
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.
Why these verses are special to me…
This passage has been a favorite of mine since childhood. I must have had to memorize parts of it in Sunday School or Vacation Bible School. But it became truly special to me when I was 15 and my father died of a heart attack. Our pastor, Bernard Spong, who had confirmed me just a couple of months before, used these verses with my mother and me in a private devotional time before friends and relatives arrived to greet us at the funeral home.
I remember at the time thinking how strange it was to be talking about rejoicing in the midst of grief more intense than anything I had experienced. But the knowledge that God’s love is stronger even than
death took root in me then, and has grown ever since. Pastor Spong’s kindness to me during that difficult time made God’s love real.
The passage then goes on to address the very human tendency to worry, to be anxious. I know all about this—I worry even when there’s no reason for it! But when I return to this passage I know what to do with that worry: bring it to God, who holds me and enfolds me with peace.
May we embody God’s love through our words and actions to our community and our world during this time of great anxiety, remembering to rejoice and give thanks for the love and peace that only God can
The accompanying image is a drawing by Picasso. It is a dove of peace, but it has clasped hands around it, which I thought was particularly nice to remind us that all of us need to join in spreading peace. I am also including a YouTube video of “Rejoice in the Lord” by Thomas Weelkes, sung by the choir of St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in New York.