Bible Readings: Philippians 4. 8 - 9
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (New International Version)
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. (The Message Bible)
If you are a regular reader of Thought for the Day, you will know that I have been trying to restore some order back into my life. My daily routines had gone somewhat astray during the lockdown as one day merged into another. I had also noticed my increasing irritability and intolerance as time had gone on, particularly with the news bulletins on the television. It was at this point that I came across the passage above in my daily reading.
I have included two versions of the same verses from two different translations of the Bible. These give slightly different perspectives and insights. I found The Message version particularly challenging. When life is not flowing as smoothly as we hope, it is so easy to focus on the bad and the ugly rather than on the good, to moan about the worst and not reflect on the best. And there is so much good about!
Many Christians finish their day with an Examen, a spiritual discipline developed by St Ignatius of Loyola. It enables us to become aware of God’s presence afresh and review the day with gratitude. The first question is “What am I grateful for today?” It is so easy to be worn down by life and get grumpy, but there are always things to be thankful for. Here are a few of my ‘lovely’ thoughts from the past week: I have delighted in the giant sunflowers in Rectory Lane, some now over twelve feet tall; I have enjoyed the garden which is full of colour and fruitfulness together with busy birds and squirrels; I have enjoyed spending time and eating good food with family and friends (all appropriately socially distanced of course!); and I have rediscovered the enjoyment of creativity - knitting, sewing and card-making. And perhaps not that surprising, filling my mind with these things has had a knock-on effect on me emotionally. When I think about the things that are beautiful and good and worthy of praise and thanksgiving, then I find that I am more cheerful, more relaxed, more content, and more peaceful. I encourage you to do the same! A Prayer
Loving Lord, whatever happens today, I thank you that I will be enfolded in your love. Give me eyes to see the true and noble, the best not the worst, the excellent and praiseworthy, and may I go through this day with a grateful heart. Amen.