HOLY TRINITY LUTHERAN CHURCH
A Daily Dose of Good News
Thursday, April 2, 2020
At 10:30 today, this devotional will be offered online at
and will remain available throughout the day and the week.
Good morning! How are you all? I hope you’re well and hanging in there! Alright, our text for today is Philippians 1: 1-11. Basically, it’s a letter from Paul to the church in Philippi, and I thought it would be interesting for us to reflect upon today.
“Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the Gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the Gospel. For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God”.
Here ends the reading.
I don’t know if you realize it, but the church of Philippi was one of Paul’s favorites. There are many letters he wrote to many churches where he’s scolding them, and redirecting them, and correcting them or rebuking them. But the church in Philippi is one that he thinks is doing a great job and that he thinks loves really well. He cares a lot about them. It struck me that he is both praising them for their efforts already and he is encouraging them at the same time. So, I think that’s similar to how I feel about you all. I know that you’re doing a great job already. You may be surprised to hear that, but I hear stories about you all often. I hear of different things that you all are doing at Holy Trinity, that have an impact on other people, and that you are loving them well. So, I hear stories about you taking excellent care, extraordinarily, wonderful care of your elderly parents. And I hear stories of you hanging out on your front porches, and your neighbors are on their front porches during this shelter in place, and you all just spending some time chatting together and hanging out. Or you tell me stories about how you’ve put teddy bears in the windows. So when kids are on walks with their parents, and they’re basically doing a teddy bear scavenger hunt, they can see the teddy bear in your window and know that it’s your way of saying: “Hey! I see you! I know you’re bored! How are you doing?” So, I hear wonderful things about you a lot. And, at the same time, I like the end of this passage and how Paul is encouraging this group to let their love overflow. I’ll read that part again:
“And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God”.
What I love about that piece is that it says “Let your love overflow”. It doesn’t say: “Do everything you possibly can, work yourself to the point of exhaustion, and fall in a heap”. What it says is: “let your love overflow”. So “overflowing” is this bubbling over, bubbling out. Alright? So it’s the concept of: it doesn’t have to be hard or strenuous or extreme. It’s just letting the love overflow out of you, easily, naturally. So, I think of us, doing this shelter in place. Many of us are with our families and there are lots of jokes out there about how our kids are sometimes driving their parents up a wall, and how spouses are jumping up and down on each other’s last nerve. There can be some frustration in that and some stress in that because we’ve been sheltering in place together now for a couple of weeks. So while you’re doing a good job and you’re hanging in there, and some days that’s probably difficult… right? That’s real. At the same point, it’s a good reminder to just let our love overflow to those who are in our proximity. So for those who are living with family, maybe that is making a meal that you know people like, out of what remains in your pantry, rather than just grabbing leftovers out of the fridge.
Or maybe showing love is taking the time to hang out and watch a tv show with one of your kids, even though you’ve got a bunch of other things to do. Or maybe it’s when your spouse does something that’s super frustrating, instead of getting into an argument, it’s deciding you’re just going to let it go, and you’re going to shift and go do something else. And for those of you who may not be with family, it may be thinking about: “ok, what’s a nice thing I can do for my neighbor- that’s pretty easy?” So, maybe that’s just picking up the phone and talking to them for five minutes, or maybe it’s waving to them across the yard. It could be many different things.
But the idea is your love just overflows, into the natural places around you and you share that with others. The great thing about that is, it does produce this harvest of righteousness. You have all these relationships around you, that have been planted and that have grown over the years and over time. And you loving on those people, you loving on those relationships, I think is righteousness! I think that is a way that we show God to all the world, because God is all about loving relationships. That’s what God came here for… So, while we may relate to Paul’s feeling of imprisonment, because he’s writing this text from prison, not knowing what’s going to happen next and feeling confined, as we can relate to…. In the midst of that, he’s thankful for what he knows and what he sees about this beloved group in front of him who is doing a great job already. And I commend you also in that, you’re doing a great job already. And he’s encouraging them to keep it up, let your love overflow, and show God to the world in that way, as this harvest of righteousness. Don’t stress out about it. Don’t work yourself into a frenzy trying to think of good ideas. Just ask God to help direct you into what is wise and good that you can do to let your love overflow. So I hope you spend some time on that today and I hope you have a great day. Take care everybody. Bye-bye.