If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. (Philippians 2:1-2)
In this letter to the Philippians, Paul seems to be asking: Is there any encouragement in Christ? Is there any consolation from love? Is there any sharing in the Spirit? Is there any compassion and sympathy?
If there is, Paul says to the early church in Philippi, then make my joy complete: get it together – or get together – think and love and work together as one.
How we need this message in these divided and distressed times! Can we find any of these joy-giving questions from Paul?
Where do you find encouragement in Christ? I have experienced it in ways that people are serving and caring for others even in this physically distanced time. Where do you find consolation from love? Consolation has appeared in shared prayers, in the love shared as people support one another through illness and death, through hurt and pain, through hope and celebrations. Where do you find people sharing in the Spirit? I have heard it in our national grieving, remembering, and honoring the gift of the life and service of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Where have you discovered compassion and sympathy? It comes when communities join together to make a difference – around ending violence and racism, around recovery from floods and fires, around caring for those who are in deepest need.
And yet, there are still divisions. We still judge and demonize others. The issues which divide us keep us from living into the fulness of what it means to be the body of Christ in the church. There is still so much inequality and suffering and violence in our communities and world. Paul’s message is for us as well, to get ourselves together – to think and love and work together as one. This does not mean we have to agree about everything. It does mean that we are called to love more strongly than our disagreement. This does not mean we have to be perfect. It does mean that we are called to be mindful and attuned to one another. How does Paul’s message speak to you?
Holy God, may we find new ways to live into Paul’s vision of complete joy, as we learn and explore, day by day, better ways to love with full accord and to be of one mind – the mind, the love, the grace and oneness you give us in the Spirit of Christ. Amen.
May this devotion provide you with a moment of faithful reflection and care. You are involved in ministries of justice and witness, in ministries of standing up and standing with people working to create better systems and communities, in ministries of learning and searching and researching to become more aware and awakened, more technologically savvy and proficient, more virtually and personally present in your churches and communities and world. Each of us who serve as members of your Wisconsin Cabinet write these devotions in grateful prayer for you – for sustenance and buoyancy, for strength and courage, for safety and just actions, and for faith and love to be full and fulfilled in your daily lives. God’s grace and blessings, God’s challenge and healthy discomfort, God’s Spirit and energy be with you, in the hope Christ offers us all.