Read Philippians 1:1-11
‘Stay at home.’  That’s the clear instruction we all got from the Prime Minister yesterday (if you missed the news, better catch up…)  We find ourselves in historic, weird and life changing times.  We’re basically all confined to our homes except for completely essential purposes – food and medicine shopping, essential workers being out, and a bit of exercise by ourselves or with our families.
Now we can experience something of what it was like for Paul when he wrote the letter to the Philippians.  He was under house arrest at the time.  He couldn’t be with the people he loved.  The church he loved.  He writes that he ‘longs for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.’  I know I feel that way about you.  I miss you.  And many of you have expressed something like this about the church, and your own families, too.
But here’s the inspiration of Paul to us today:
You can write
Paul doesn’t sit and wallow.  He writes to the church.  Encouraging, expressing love, passing on words of life to them.
You can write.  Write a letter to someone.  Send a message, a card, a text.
Write an encouragement for our church that I can include in these daily emails, so we’re hearing your voices too.  Email it to me to pass on.
You can write with joy
Paul’s stuck at home.  But he’s filled with joy!  That’s what this letter is known for.  He ‘prays with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.’  One thing that’s bringing me joy in these days is your partnership.  Our family of faith.  The expressed trust in God.  The prayers for one another.  The amazing pictures our kids are sending in reminding us of who our God is (first couple included today, more to come this week!)  You bring me joy when I think of you, your love for God, and your serving Him in these days.  We can discover more joy sat at home and deepening in our time with God than we had in the 24/7 crazy busy world of activity, materialism and distraction that we were living in a week ago.
We can grow in discerning love
Paul prays that our ‘love would abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best…’  We’re going to need that.  I’m finding with things changing so much every day, how best to love each other, and our neighbours, keeps having to change too.  I don’t know how to ‘love best.’  So let’s take a breather from scrabbling to do that today… and pray…
Father, what’s the best way to love right now?  What is the way of loving each other, and our community, that you truly want us to pursue?  Give us knowledge, depth of insight, and discernment for that, we pray.  Give us a deepening joy in you – an unexpected, Christ-based joy – because we’re stuck at home.  And help us to encourage one another as Paul did his church.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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