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. Phillipians 4 v 8
In times of uncertainty and constant “unknowns” our anxiety and stress levels increase consciously and unconsciously. Looking after our wellbeing becomes extremely important and crucial for our resilience; our survival. Wellbeing, as I was reminded today, involves body, mind and soul all together. Taking care of our bodies by exercising, by eating and drinking the right things and the right amount and by getting in touch with our bodies by acknowledging that we are physical beings who need warmth and comfort and touch. Taking care of our soul involves invoking our faith and our spiritual practices of meditation, prayer, reflection and partaking in food for the soul through scripture, creation and connection with community and God. And our minds…….well, often they race. They race with thoughts of “what if….” both in a negative, worrying sense but also in a creative, idea filled way. Our minds are so busy, they flit and fly to the iphone text, the pinging email, the missed call, the knock on the door, the remembered item on the “to do” list or the person right in front of us on zoom or in person asking something from us. And so often, our minds are filled with negative thoughts that lead to negative feelings. We remember with pinpoint accuracy or with an elephant type memory (as our wonderful prayer below describes) the hurt and the pain others have caused us yet fail to call to mind the blessings, joys and gifts that are present within each and every day. The power of positive thinking is so important for wellbeing and indeed for faith, it is the stuff of pilgrimage that helps us to keep on keeping on; putting one foot in front of the other. Thankfully, to help us with that positive thinking, this week, we have the blessing of the words of Phillipians 4: “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.” Think about these things and choose not to think of the rest.
This week’s music:
This week’s prayer:
Merciful God, there is much that we’d do well to forget – and yet with elephant-like qualities, we have mastered the art of remembering those moments when we felt ourselves to have been:
These causes of personal grievances burn within us, often lingering for years, and yet these are the very things you would have us dismiss lest they become malignant, blackening our hearts.
Forgive us, Merciful God, when we refuse to let go – when we insist on carrying the past around with us, as a trophy cabinet of hurts.
Might we, instead, devote ourselves to remembering that which builds us up and which is helpful to us in navigating the choppy waters of the present day. And to that end, might we begin with the encouragement of the Psalmist to ‘Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me.’
Loving Lord, there is no end to the good things that you have done for us. Especially in this season of Remembrance, we remind ourselves that you have been ‘our help in ages past, our shelter from the many, you carried us ‘through many a day of darkness, through many a scene of strife.’
Loving Lord, there is no end to the good things that you have done for us. Especially in this season of Remembrance, we remind ourselves that you have been ‘our help in ages past, our shelter from the stormy blast.’ By the courage and sacrifice of so many, you carried us ’through many a day of darkness, through many a scene of strife.’
This, we will remember.
And in our remembering, we will find ’strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow’ – despite the darkness and brokenness of our world and, yes, in the face of the pandemic through which we are battling. For as we remember, we see the truth of your promise that, in Christ, you will ‘never leave us nor forsake us.’
You are faithful, 0 God. This we remember because we must not forget, In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
The Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the General Assembly in 2020/21.