Tag Archives: Community

Love Your Neighbour

3/11/2013 – transcript here

Makes reference to book about Neighbouring, and the author (Dave Runyon – “The art of neighbouring”) who went to a mayor and asked “What does this city need?” and the answer was “Neighbours”.  Also noted that the city planners did not have a correlation between Christians being in the neighbourhood and increasing amounts of neighbourliness, and also that the Jesus spoke about loving our neighbour.  This is something that we need to bring together.

Relationship always trumps program.  The best thing is that we could start a neighbouring movement – isn’t there something in the Bible about neighbours. Continue reading

New Monasticism

The restoration of the Church must surely depend on a new kind of monasticism, which has nothing in common with the old but a life of uncompromising discipleship, following Christ according to the Sermon on the Mount.  I believe the time has come to gather people together and do this. (page 260)

Theological work and real pastoral fellowship can only grow in a life which is governed by gathering round the Word morning and evening and by fixed times of prayer. (page 261)

In

John Ortberg, 15th September 2013, Transcript is here

Begins by talking about community- that if you have relationships then you are less likely to die in the next year (“Join our house groups otherwise you will die”) and you are more likely to catch cold (“Isolated people are snottier”).  This all comes from a man called Robert Putnam who wrote a book called “Bowling Alone”.

Talked about the first three verses of Genesis, and that already we see God, Spirit and Word – the inner ring at the heart of all social circles.  We must live in such circles of sufficiency.

Community is where we grow.  We can hypothetically believe in Love, but then we can meet real people and suddenly that becomes too difficult.

In community we learn acceptance of each other – it is not for nothing that the two dimensions of the cross point up and across.  This is brought out in Ephesians 2 and John Ortberg says that hear you can insert any kind of hostility instead of Jew and Gentile.

We serve in community.  Volunteering comes from the Latin to give up, and giving up is what God does on the cross.  He is the ultimate volunteer.

Then talks about the kind of community that we need to be – each of us serving and honouring our different gifts, and that is the community of God.

Community is where we are healed and make ourselves accountable to one another. The human is the only animal where we talk about ourselves being naked.  Every other animal does not need clothes.  But we need a place where we can be unveiled to one another.

We die in community

We are resurrected in community

Evangelicalism and the Army

The British Armed forces have often been injudiciously ignored as agents in the spread of Evangelical revival, probably because of traditional unflattering stereotypes about military behaviour.  We need to see the army as like other institutions and communities in flux in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, where uprooted individuals sought identity and frameworks for their lives amid confusion and danger: Evangelical principles were as likely to appeal to soldiers as to anyone else, perhaps more in view of their confrontations with violence and death.  Moreover, the British army’s and navy’s steady embrace of non-partisan patriotism chimed well with a general tendency in British Evangelicalism to keep away from politics unless absolutely necessary, while tending to patriotic conservatism.

(page 755)

My Long Journey To Your House

Dear Lord, I will remain restless, tense and dissatisfied until I can be totally at peace in your house.  There is no certainty that my life will be any easier in the years, ahead, or that my heart will be any calmer.  But there is the certainty that you are waiting for me and will welcome me home when I have persevered in my long journey to your house.

Henri Nouwen, June 5th

Expensive Defence


Expensive defense

Key Words Peace War Justice Conflict
Source New Internationalist
Author
Page
Quote November 2005

It is reported by the world policy institute that the The Star Wars initiative has taken up $130bn in spending and yet has failed to produce a single device capable of stopping a single missile.

It is also reported that since 9/11 80,000 people have been detained by the United States from Afghanistan to Cuba

In December 2005 George W Bush reaffirms his support for the death penalty following the 1000th execution since it was reintroduced in 1976.

Grace and Peace in Flemington

Grace in Flemington

The history of Flemington as a Church goes back to a Kirk Session meeting that would have happened up the road from here, either in the Old Parish Church, or its halls.

The year would have been 1875.

The attendants would all have been men.  There would have been luminaries from the community present, doctors from the Stewarton Road, factory owners from Brownside Road, labourers from Gilbertfield Road.

And someone will have stood up.

They will have noted the vast amount of house building going on in the Flemington area

The number of miners moving into the pits around about

The men who were now moving with their families into the new steel works established 2 years previously.

And with all these people ar0und about,

An elder will have stood up and proposed, I do not know his name, I should probably look at the minutes.

And proposed that a mission hall be built.

Now why did he say that this was needed.

Why when people move to an area, do they need a Church.

It is not for food, it is not for money,

It might be for some form of moral guidance, so that people know the difference between right and wrong, that might come slightly closer.

It might be to foster a sense of community, that is important, but communities have been built around co-ops and dance halls.

Why did there need to be a mission hall in Flemington and Hallside, which led to this building being built in 1875?

Why does there need to be a Church?

Letter From Paul

Listen again to Paul’s letter to the Galatians, the opening words…

 

1 From Paul, whose call to be an apostle did not come from human beings or by human means, but from Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from death. 2 All the believers who are here join me in sending greetings to the churches of Galatia: 3 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. 4 In order to set us free from this present evil age, Christ gave himself for our sins, in obedience to the will of our God and Father.

 

Now have a listen here from other letters.  Turn if you wish to Romans 1

7 And so I write to all of you in Rome whom God loves and has called to be his own people: May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

The best thing that I want God to give you, says Paul to the Romans, is Grace and Peace.

“A gift without any expectation of return”

What is this Grace and Peace, a good definition of Grace is God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense.

Another scholar, Spiro Zoidkiakis

“the absolutely free expression of the love of God, finding its only motive in the bounty and benevolence of God”.

The word grace goes back to another word meaning joy.

This idea of cheerful generosity, of undeserved magnificent kindness.

A  favour, love, God, the absolute free expression of the love of God to you.

And peace, has all kinds of meanings,

Harmony,

Shalom,

it means the end of grrrr…., but it means more, it means aaagh,it means “every possible good”

And Paul, says, in Christ you have this now.  You have this thing.  The best possible good.

Look here we are again at Corinthians

1 From Paul, who was called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Sosthenes – 2 To the church of God which is in Corinth, to all who are called to be God’s holy people, who belong to him in union with Christ Jesus, together with all people everywhere who worship our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours: 3 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

This is absolutely central to Paul.  Have a look here at Acts 14

3 The apostles stayed there for a long time, speaking boldly about the Lord, who proved that their message about his grace was true by giving them the power to perform miracles and wonders.

The thing that Paul speaks, that he talks about is grace, at the beginning of everything, is Grace.

That’s what starts the day, the grace and peace

Every conceivable good.

That is what he speaks about, look at verse 26

26 and from there they sailed back to Antioch, the place where they had been commended to the care of God’s grace for the work they had now completed.

At the start of every letter,

At the heart of everything he speaks about

In the way that he approaches the risks and challenges of life

Grace and peace

Grace and peace

Grace and Peace

The Church is good at speaking about grace

We can come up with great definitions of grace

We can define our Protestant heritage by this word grace

We can come up with clever acronyms “God’s riches at Christ’s expense”

But the true challenge is to live it.

 

In arguments, possibly with children, possibly with spouses, possibly with brothers and sisters, or parents,

Can you begin with these three words “Grace and peace”

In our dealings with each other, as sisters and brothers of Christ

Can we race each other to get these things into action “Grace and peace”

It is hard to receive grace and peace, and yet the only way of going on

I was with someone last week against whom I had done something wrong and they found out and they forgave me.  Grace and peace

In our conversation about each other, particularly when other’s are not in earshot,

Can we flavour every word with this sachet of gift from God,

Grace and peace

In the messages in our heads

There are words that fly across our head

If someone has annoyed you, and we are planning our retaliations

Can we get other words into that traffic jam of words that passes across the screen at the front of our heads, grace and peace, grace and peace.

Berating Ourselves

I was dealing with someone last week who had made a pretty bad mistake, it was a mistake that they had made many many times,

And the first thing I was desperate to get them to say, before “Silly me”

Was “Grace and peace”

This goodness, this setting things right first of all by God.

Or what about this thing that so many of us carry,

This poor self image,

In Christian circles it can actually get rewarded,  by being called humility, or service

But underneath there is something harmful going on,

I am not worth a lot, I am a failure

And other words need to interrupt those words, profoundly true words

Grace and Peace

Trying To Be Good

When we want to do better by avoiding bad, or by doing good,

What is the best way of doing it – to motivate ourselves into a frenzy of determination

To berate ourselves for past mistakes – give ourselves the hairdryer treatment

Or do we let these three magical words fly across our heads

“Grace and Truth”

God has given you everything, every possibly good, now what do we do

If you worry about what your family does to you, that the complaints that have effected your brothers and sisters, your mother and your father, and it is only a matter of time before what is wrong with them gets you

What is going to interrupt this inevitable genetics

Grace and peace

Grace and peace.

Grace and peace on the way down

Another time that you have to say “Grace and peace” is when you are on the way down.

 

The lowest point of my week was triggered by six words

“Neil, could you empty the rubbish”

Now I do suffer from the sin of laziness, and I don’t like being told what to do,

All that was in there

But it came at a rare moment when I just stopped to watch one of our children play,

And for 1 second, and then the six words

And it was like

“There is no good in this life, I am never allowed to enjoy the good in this life, everything in this life is grind and obligation and doing things for others”

And I am heading down, down and down

And I am writing this sermon, trying to say “Grace and peace, grace and peace”

And I don’t immediately get better, that takes a bit of time,

But all the time Grace and Peace is reminding me that the low point is not the end point

That after I have gone down, I will not be in the truth, that place is grace and peace, grace and peace

Babette’s Feast

Philip Yancey relates a story which comes from a Danish author called Isak Dinesen.

 

It concerns a religious community in the middle 1800s in Denmark

An austere religious community which talks about grace and peace but knows little of it eking out a grey existence on the coast of Denmark, led by white bearded, grim man called the Dean.

 

This sect had renounced all world pleasures, they wore only black

They ate boiled cod and gruel, fortified with a splash of beer

They sang hymns about “Jerusalem my happy home, name ever dear to me”

But this life was to be tolerated, a grim waiting room before heaven.

The old Dean had two teenage daughters, Martine, named after the German reformer Martin Luther

And Phillipa named after the Luther’s disciple Philip Melanchthon

 

And there was in them light, but it was snuffed out

Martine caught the eye of a dashing cavalry officer, but successfully rebutted his advances so she might look after her aged father.  Until eventually he rode away to marry a lady in waiting to the Queen, to Queen Sophia.

Then Philippa, she had the most beautiful voice, when she sang about Jerusalem it seemed like the heavenly city itself had descended.  It just so happened that at the time a renowned opera singer by the name of Achille Papin, a Frenchman, was spending some time on that part of the coast recovering from illness, and heard Philippa sing, with a voice that would have graced the Grand Opera in Paris.

But despite his pleas, Philippa would not leave; Royalty would applaud you, you would taken through the streets in a horse drawn carriage to cheering crowds, but Philippa grew nervous around this handsome singer, the feelings that she felt when she sang some of the romantic arias with him.  Eventually she declined.  Her Father wrote a letter asking for no more music lessons and Papin returned to Paris as if he had misplaced a winning lottery ticket.

 

Much changed in the next15 years

The Father, the Dean, died; and leadership  of the sect passed to Martine and Philippa.   But it was difficult to hold the sect together, with all its disagreements without the help of their aged father.

One brother bore a grudge against another over a business matter.  Rumours of an affair spread involving two of the members.  A pair of old ladies had not spoken to each other for a decade.

Although the sect met on the Sabbath, and sang the old hymns, the worship had lost its lustre, and numbers dwindled.  Despite the problems, Martine and Philippa remained faithful.  Organising the worship and boiling the cod gruel for the toothless elders of the village.

One night, when it was raining, too dark and too muddy to venture out, the sisters heard a knock at the door.  When they opened it a woman collapsed in a swoon.  They revived her to discover she spoke no Danish, she handed them a note, it was written in the hand of Achille Papin.

Philippa blushed as she remembered the flutter of singing all those old arias.

The woman’s name was Babette and she had lost her husband and son during the civil war in France.  Papin had found her passage on a ship and had written that the villagers might show her mercy.  “Babette can cook” the letter read.

The sisters had no money, and felt unsure about this visitor, but consented to let her cook, and Babette softened their hearts.  She would do any chores in exchange for room and board.

For the next twelve years Babette worked for the sisters.  She cooked for the girls, their strange flavourless food, and she cooked for the poor of the town.  She even helped with the Sabbath services.  Everyone had to agree that Babette brought new life to the town.

Babette never referred to her life in France so it came as a surprise one day when Babette had a letter.  A friend in Paris had faithfully kept Babette’s lottery ticket going and she had just one the lottery, ten thousand francs.

It happened that Babette’s lottery ticket win coincided with the day that the sisters were planning a celebration to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of their father.  Babette took them aside.

I have never asked anything of you since I came here.

The sisters agreed

I now ask you only the one thing, that you allow me to cook for your father’s celebration.  The girls, slightly nervously, agreed.

When the money arrived, Babette disappeared for a few days to make arrangements, and then returned.  Over the next few weeks, the residents of the village of Norre Vosburg on the coast of Denmark were shocked to see a remarkable procession of goods as boats docked to unload provisions for Babette’s kitchen.

Workmen pushed wheelbarrows loaded with small birds

Champagne

The entire head of a cow

Truffles

Pheasants,

Strange creatures that lived in the sea

Huge tortoises moving their head from side to side

All these ended up in the sister’s kitchen now firmly ruled by Babette

The sisters were anxious, and agreed with the remaining members of the sec t, that they would remain silent eating this exotic food lest any offence were given when the didn’t like it.

The day of the feast, 15 December arrived.

A surprising announcement was made, an 90 year old lady announced that her nephew the cavalry officer who had once courted Martine, would be in attendance, now a general.

The table looked lovely, the villagers sat down to eat

Only the general remarked on the food “Amontillado” he exclaimed

And the finest Amontillado I have ever tasted he claimed.

He could have swore this was turtle soup but how could this ever end up on the coast of Denmark

The next course it is Blinis Demidorff he exclaimed

Veuvel Cliquot 1860 exclaimed upon arrival of the Champagne

The villagers remained mute.

Although no one spoke of the food, the atmosphere began to change

Their blood warmed, the brothers began to speak ,

The two women who had never spoken began to converse

Another woman burped, without thinking her neighbour blurted “Hallelujah”

The kitchen boy brought through the coup de grace

Baby quail in Sarcophage = amazing he said, he had only ever tasted food like this in the famous café anglais in Paris, the one renowned for its female chef.

He rose to make a speech

Mercy and truth have met together

Righteousness and bliss shall kiss each other

 

Eventually the sisters met Babette, exhausted in the kitchen

The best they could do “The food was nice Babette they said

We will remember this meal when your return back to Paris they said

But I am not returning to Parish replied Babette

But what about your winnings they said,

I spent them on the meal said Babette

She had spent everything on the meal.

 

General “We have all of been told that grace is to be found in the universe

But in our human foolishness we imagine  divine grace to have an end

But the moment comes when our eyes are opened and see and realise that grace is infinite.

Grace my friends demands nothing from us but that we shall await it with confidence and acknowledge it with gratitude.

 

This is grace,

Turtle soup and quails eggs and every kind of good

And the cost has been paid in full by the giver.

The Cost

Did you notice the cost in Babette’s feast

 

One of the reasons we instinctively rebel against Grace and peace is that it seems too good to be true

There is no such thing as a free lunch

There has to be a reckoning somewhere for the messing up that has happened,

Some kinds of act of cleansing

That is why we flagellate ourselves, berate ourselves, convince ourselves of our worthlessness

Or more determine that others have to pay for what has gone wrong

Because the moral shape of the world has to be righted, and it can’t just be righted by saying Grace and Truth.

 

Look at what Paul says here,

May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. 4 In order to set us free from this present evil age, Christ gave himself for our sins, in obedience to the will of our God and Father. 5 To God be the glory forever and ever! Amen.

The grace and peace doesn’t come for nothing, you are right to think that

When the part of you says “This is too good to be true, this can’t happen” you are right to suspect, but keep the thought going into verse 4, because Christ has paid the cost.

The colours of the Hall

I have had few more stresses in the last year, than worrying about the colours of our hall.

 

I am not sure why this affected me so much.  Loads of people kept telling me not to worry.  I was worried about shades, about departing from what we normally do, this brightness is a high risk strategy.

And yet there is something very meaningful there.

The yellow is like the sun, and the sun is like grace, fierce, passionate, life giving, absolutely 100% free.

 

I have been charged for food, I have been charged for water, I have never been charged for sun.

Sure, one might be charged for fake sun, but the real stuff always come free

It is like grace.

But notice the arch and the window, deep red, the colour of blood

The grace comes because of the blood

God’s riches at Christ’s expense

The yellow is there, because of the red

Galatians are Celts

You know that the Galatians had another word

The word for the Galatians was Celtoi, the Celts

The Celts from who many of us are descended, are Galatians

We find it hard to believe in this grace thing.

What you get is what you earn

What you give others is what they deserve

There is friendliness and cheer and hospitality, but too often it can be a disguise

There is humility and service, but often it can be a disguise

We have a history of violence and aggression

We are slow with our grace and peace

The gospel started with Christ

Came to Paul

Then came to the Celts, the Galatians, including us

In The Session House

When the speech was made in 1875, by a smartly dressed gentleman from Overton Road

Why did he say that we needed a mission hall in Hallside and Flemington

What were the reasons,

I would like to think that in his speech, he perhaps hinted that the reason we needed it was not to guard tradition, was not to keep morals, was not to provide an alternative to the alehouse

It was because we need something grace and peace

The best that God gives.

When the Church was dedicated on Christmas Eve 125 years ago,

What was celebrated was not above all fine architecture or monies raised,

It was a community that would live by, speak about, give flesh to Grace and Peace

When the communities that have lived here for 125 years have walked by this Church

And walked in its door

What did they find here

What kept them here

What was the goodness that sustained them in the home, in service, in work in Glasgow, in the steelworks, down the mine, in the Richmond Laundry

Grace and Peace

I don’t know who will be here in 125 years time,

Our job is not to survive

It will not be a failure if this brick and stone does not stay.

It is not the first job of a Church to stay open

It is the first job of a Church to glorify God

And in everything that it says

And in every way that it lives

At the beginning of every sentence

Grace and Peace

Grace and Peace

Grace and Peace

Verse For A Steel Works

I was delighted when I heard back from our contact at the steelworks:

“As an aside you picked a very pertinent verse as Clydebridge made munitions for both wars and also melted down thousands of ton’s of scrap munitions army surplus, vehicles etc well after the second world war,  And now one of the current users of the steel made at Clydebridge use the steel for JCB type digger buckets ( ploughs )”

Peace

Peace

Dear friends,

I want to begin by acknowledging how special it is to be with you this evening.

Firstly because it is people from Independent Evangelical Churches who have had a big influence me, and were a big part of my coming to faith.

And secondly because when I hear about your community in car journeys with Stuart, you inspire me.

I think in particular of the revolution that has to happen in the Church of Scotland, when we think about vast conglomerations who vaguely know each other, to more tightly knit communities, and we take seriously the gifts of leadership that are given to people who don’t wear the badge of minister, we need to be more like this kind of community.

Now To Peace

What we are going to do this evening, is look firstly at Philippians 4:6-7 as our first look at the idea of peace,

We are then going to expand that out to look at the idea of peace as it is contained in this section of scripture, from about 3:17-4:9

And if you want something to hang this on, it would be that

Peace comes from a life which enjoys the presence of God.

Look here at verse 5b- 7:

The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Notice here that Paul does not leave the presence of God as a mere matter of information.

“The Lord is near – do not be anxious about anything.”

If Paul’ understanding of the Christian life was simply a set of boxes to be ticked, propositions to be agreed with, then that verse would be left here.

But there is something about the presence of God that is not instinctively known, an overhang from our rebellion from God.  And Paul urges a practice here,

In everything – in work, in driving, in stressed out preparation for sermons which were lost because the notebook stopped working, in everything, there is no possible circumstance in which this might not apply, Paul says that we are to present our prayer and petition with thanksgiving present our requests to God.

Now there is temptation – no-one ever says this, but we pray sometimes as if God is a cosmic bodyguard, and the job of prayer is to give God his security itinerary for the day – God would you look after me on the way to work, would you look after the kids, would you take care of me in an urgent project meeting at 10am.

Now if this what Paul had meant, the verse would have been written slightly differently, it would have been something like this:

by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Note the presence of “Prayer and petition”

And “With thanksgiving”

My thanksgiving parts of the prayers are the first to go when I run out of time for prayer, it is the pleasantry, but what we really need are the requests.

If I forget the thanksgiving part of prayer, then nothing bad will happen,

But if I forget the petition part, then God might not show up.

But prayer is always this holistic thing, we will see that shortly, always thanking and praying, and enjoying the presence of God.

And if we pray in this kind of way then the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard our hearts.

That is a lovely thought, the peace of God, on the outside of the heart, protecting it from thoughts that are going to cause excessive worry, and anxiety.

No you cannot come in, for this is the peace of God,

And this here through the practise of constant and holistic prayer.

This practice of prayer that has to be part of life.

For me the set aside time is absolute essential, and finding a way to prayer that works for you.

Pray the way you can, not the way you can’t as Ignatius used to say

And the Benedictines have this practise called Stattio where they make sure that they never go straight from one activity to another, but they pause from one to remember it, and go straight to the other

And this is explains why “Paul can say ‘IN everything’”

The peace of God.

There are not certain activities where peace is more achievable.

Paul does not say, “Pray and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God, and when you are on holiday, the peace of God will guard your hearts”

Paul does not say “By prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God and provided the children are not bothering you, the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

“In everything says Paul”.

So this is the first thing,

Pray in everything, and the peace of God, will guard your heart

Now why the peace of God, – we’ll come back to that later,

But for now a sense of peace – means something like the “opposite of anxiety”, “calmness” “serenity”.

A practice, a prayer in everything,

So that Peace Guards The Praying Heart

Peace Exists In Community

The second thin I want to say hangs on the meaning of Peace,

Because in this context this Peace certainly means “the opposite of anxiety”

But it means something more.

And the next two points are going to develop this.

Peace goes back to the Greek work “Eirene” from which we get our word “Eirenic” and the name “Irene”

And it also goes back to the word Shalom,  and Shalom, means something like this,  It is a sense of the connectedness of relationships,

This web here,

The sense that we are part of each other, Paul would say the Friendships are actually real, and they extend not just to each other, but also to every other believer, and to Christ, and to Adam, and to Abraham.

Facebook is quite good at this thing,

The idea of the Facebook network is a good one for thinking about this,

Because it foregrounds this,

If one were to very roughly paraphrase Paul message of community, it would be this,

“I am bringing you a much better version of Facebook”.

And this sense of Peace permeates the letter.

Have a look at these verses here from the beginning of Philippians.

Vv3-8

“ 3I thank my God every time I remember you. 4In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

7It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. 8God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.”

Notice this all,

This constancy of including all the Phillipians.

Convinced of this,(B) I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your(C) progress and(D) joy in the faith,

This sense of all, this attentiveness to the relationships in the congregation is so important to Paul.

And look at how this shows up in the situation that has developed with Euodia Syntyche.

Now this is interesting for me,

Firstly because of the fact that this appears in chapter 4.

I don’t know about you, but whenever I am involved in Church conflict it has the habit of consuming me.

If were writing the letter to Philippians, it would have started roughly the same

“Neil, to the Philipppians, grace and peace

I thank my God when I pray to you

Euodia and Syntyche what is going,

What is up with you

In all your years on this planet, and as Christians has God not given you the slightest amount of self-awareness, and ability just to talk about these things

It appears later on,

In chapter four,

Paul is calm enough to leave it until chapter four

But he is not so scared of mentioning this that he leaves it out entirely

Can you imagine being the guy that read this out to the congregation,

And Euodia is there and Synthyche there, and he knows because he has been living with this, and he is fed up with meetings dominated by this tension.

And he has to name this

To pardon the mixed metaphor, our Churches are difficult places to walk because we are walking on the broken glass of all the unopened cans of worms that have been swept underneath the carpet.

This is not shalom

This has to be different here.

Paul does not say “Euodia, my sympathies are with you on this”

Paul does not say “Here’s how I want you to go about sorting this out”

Paul does not say “Everybody, could you just get along, they are all named.”

Euodia and Syntyche, I beg you, be of one mind the in Lord.

Peace is first all rooted in the presence of God, and the opposite is anxiety, and the context of discovery is prayer

Peace is secondly rooted in the community of God, and its opposite is conflict, and the context of discovery is attentiveness to the all

And this is perhaps the second thing that peace of God means here,

It is God’s own peace

How can God have a peace, it is the peace that God enjoys as Father, Son and Spirit.

Peace That Comes From The Drama Of God

And the third kind of peace is rooted in the character of God, and the opposite is clamour, and the context of discovery is the “therefore”.

Peace is rooted in the character of God, and its opposite is restlessness, and the context of discovery is the therefore.

Whenever you see the there fore, as what the therefore is there for.

Paul is always taking them to gospel truths, and applying,

What then shall we say, is another favourite of Paul’s

In the light of these reliable truths,

How do we, as the only ever conveyors of these truths into the place that is known as “my life”

How do we live

And Paul is always doing this.

The drama here is the drama of citizenship and transformation.

20But(A) our citizenship is in heaven, and(B) from it we(C) await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who will transform(D) our lowly body(E) to be like his glorious body,(F) by the power that enables him even(G) to subject all things to himself.

Philippians 4

1Therefore, my brothers,[a] whom I love and(H) long for,(I) my joy and(J) crown,(K) stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

The X-Factor corresponds to a drama that is life, and you have to get this thing

It sees itself as this kind of personal transformation agency

Andy Abrahams the bin man

Rebecca who wants the best for the child

Gamu’s life chances are ruined because she has not appeared on the X-Factor

Never mind the fact that Simon Cowell suffers from frequent bouts of depression and Cheryl Cole has just had the worst year of her life

And Dannii Minogue has just had the best year of her life, entirely grounded in events that have nothing to do with the X-Factor

In every sphere, there is the alternative transformation that is presented to us

For me, it is being invited to speak at Keswick or Pastoring my own MegaChurch.

In yours, it might be rearing the perfect family

Or being promoted in work

Or might be rooted in your house.

The only drama that gives you strength in life is this one, the drama of God,

And in this there is a peace that is opposite of anxious restlessness

Why do you stand firm, because where you are standing now is a perfectly acceptable place to be.

Paul is always grounding his life in the truths of the gospel

The therefore, the drama of God

And it shows up in his language, not just Euodia and SYnthyche are good people but they have laboured with me for the gospel

Not just Rejoice, but Rejoice in the Lord

And your thought life

Whatever is honourable, whatever is lovely, whatever is pure

Practise these things, and the peace of God will be with you.

Peace is rooted in the character of God, and its opposite is restlessness, and the context of discovery is the therefore.