I love this passage. In fact, the last verse is on my Facebook page. It is so good, in my opinion, it can stand alone. However, I do think it might be helpful to put it into today’s language, and frame it in a light that resonates with our time. So here goes:
Give thanks to our Lord; his love endures forever. He will not leave us.
The Lord is my strength and fortitude; his support helps me live, knowing that my life is worthy of all blessings that come my way.
The right hand, or the purest, strongest part of my God does valiant, honorable works in the world.
I shall not die, I will live, and I will share with others that their lives are worthy, and that God is good. The Lord has not punished me; he has loved me. My punishments are a perception of my own from which God releases me.
Open the door of righteousness and virtue to me, I embrace those parts of myself and thank God for them.
The stone that the builders reject becomes the cornerstone; at times when I felt like I didn’t deserve your love, oh Lord, you were faithful. Through my relationship with you and others, I realize that I am the cornerstone, the rock that can support others in their journeys.
This is the day that the Lord hath made. I will rejoice and be glad in it. Always.
There was discord in the Philippian church.
You’ve got to be kidding. The Christians aren’t getting along?
Some of us Baptist preachers like to say we are the pastor at the First Baptist Church of Discontent.
We don’t know the nature or cause of the discord in the Philippian church. Very rarely is discord a simple matter. It is usually multilayered with our messy lives, messy personal issues, and political agendas.
Our lectionary text in Philippians begins with 2:5, but it wouldn’t hurt to start reading from verse 1. Despite Paul’s admonition, Christians aren’t typically going to be “of the same mind.” And they aren’t going to play well together to make their Paul-like leader’s “joy complete.” But they can work on their selfish ambition and conceit. Doesn’t conceit hinder the ministry of your congregation? Is there a shortage of humility in your steeples?
Is there not also a shortage of humility in society? Aren’t part of our society’s problems with sexism, racism, homophobia, ageism, and socio-economic dynamics related to arrogance? Is there a close relationship between ignorance and arrogance?
Remind the Christians that Jesus rode in on a donkey: he wasn’t an ass. They may have confused the two.
Every day, Pope Gregory I fed at his own table twelve poor pilgrims, whom he insisted on serving himself.
Abba Arsenius, a desert father, consulted an old Egyptian monk about his own thoughts. Someone noticed this and said to him, “Abba Arsenius, how is it that you with such good Latin and Greek education, ask this peasant about your thoughts?” He replied, “I have indeed been taught Latin and Greek, but I do not know even the alphabet of this peasant.”
When it comes to practicing humility we have some good examples to follow, including the one who rode in on a donkey.
©2013 Liberal Lectionary resources