“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.”
A word that people do not usually associate with Lent is rejoice. As we have discovered, Lent is a time of reflection and repentance. This text reminds us that reflection and repentance do not have to be boring and joyless. Our Lenten seasons can be full of joy and rejoicing because we can be assured that with this season of reflection and repentance that we are being transformed as individuals and as a community.
Today’s text is written by Paul to the church at Philippi. Most likely, it was written while Paul was in jail enduring great struggle and suffering. With that in mind, the joy in this letter is palpable. Somehow, joy is possible in times of struggle. Paul is encouraging the Christians in Philippi to keep the faith amidst difficulties that arise in their lives, the church, and their world. He is calling them to stick with their spiritual practices. Keep worshipping and keep praying because it will be worth it.
On this long Lenten journey, it is easy to get weighed down by our burdens. In a season focused on repentance and reflection, we can easily become inundated with all of the things in our lives that need God’s transformation. But, Lent is a perfect opportunity to rejoice, to be grateful and joyful for the ways God is working in our lives. It is a perfect time to celebrate that we worship a God who brings new life every day. Rejoice, sisters and brothers, for God is doing a great thing among us!
Open our hearts and minds, O God, so that we may see the great things you are doing among us. Seeing the traces of your work in our midst encourages us and reminds us to keep the faith during this long journey of Lent. Prepare us to receive the new life you offer us daily. Amen.