Readings: Phillipians 4.1-9 and Matthew 22 1-14.
“The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything….let your requests be made known to God.” (Phillipians4.5-6).
These are difficult times for all of us -the climate crisis, the Covid pandemic,awaiting the impact of exiting the EU- to name but a few concerns. Many people are worried about their health, their jobs or businesses, their finances or are missing contact with loved ones. “Worry” is defined by one American author as praying for something you do NOT want to happen. It is a negative emotion that wearies us and is to be avoided, but something we probably all do to some extent.
Paul is writing from Rome (probably) where he is under house arrest at best, or in prison at worst. He is expressing his thanks to the Christians community in Phillipi (Macedonia) who have supported him throughout. He reports earlier in the letter on some of the worrying difficulties he has had, and notes that even in Phillipi there have been disagreements, for example between Euodia and Syntyche.
Paul has had much to worry about in discharging the obligation he feels since his conversion to faith (Acts 22.6-21) to convey the message of salvation in Christ to all the peoples in the eastern Mediterranean. He has been beaten, stoned imprisoned rejected, deceived and been on arduous journeys by land and sea.
And yet he writes: “The lord is near. Do not worry about anything…” How come?
The key I think is in the concept of Trust. Morning Prayer for Mondays includes these words, which I love:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Be not wise in your own sight. In all your doings acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.”
We trust people when we have favourable experience of them…..and a relationship develops, or at least an affinity if the person is miles away. Having a relationship and a good experience are the precursors to Trust.
God know us because He is omniscient….He knows the number of hairs on our head (Luke 12.7). He sees through to our hearts and souls. God is always near us, but do we reach out to Him, so that we feel near to Him? Do we have a reciprocal relationship? Do we have that experience of His Presence?