Paul’s reaction was to write to the Christians there for two reasons. Firstly, he wrote a thank you letter for the gift that Epaphraditus had brought to him from the church and from which he had felt great encouragement. Secondly, he wanted to encourage the people that he felt great love for. His letter was particularly about joy.
Paul had joy in his relationship with Jesus Christ and he was encouraging the people to find that same joy. He believed that Christians should be joyful always no matter what they were going through. While some of us are still under Lockdown we would all get help from Paul’s letter for, as well as writing the joyful letter, he says that he had learned to be content and have joy in Jesus Christ. Many of us have been away from those we love and might find his words comforting when he says, “in all my prayers for all of you I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the Gospel”. So, even if the pandemic prevents us from being together, we share in the grace of God which gives us the loving affection of Jesus Christ.
I heard someone recently suggesting that there would soon be no place for letters because of emails and other ways of making contact with others. I would be very sorry if I could not send or receive post, such as letters, post cards, and birthday and Christmas cards. I know I am old fashioned, but I am quickly to the door when I hear something coming through my letter box. I also, going back to Paul, love to get a thank you card. I always get thank you cards from my family and one of my friends teenaged granddaughters sends me thank you cards with all about her life and I cherish all of those cards.
PRAYERSBeginning with well-known words of Paul who said, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice”. EVER LOVING GOD, hear our prayers and help us, through the Holy Spirit, to show joyfulness at all times.
Then Paul says, “Let your gentleness be evident to all.” We admit that we are not always gentle in how we help others. Forgive us if we have been harsh in word or in our actions. Thank you Lord Jesus for the words by which we are led.
Once more in the words of Paul we come to you. “Do not be anxious in anything but in prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your requests to God.” Father we thank You for Paul and his leading words. We pray for help when we are afraid of the future. We pray again to find joyfulness in Jesus Christ, and we thank you for the promise of your peace.
Loving Father there are people throughout the world who need help. There are children dying of the lack of food and medicine and the virus is making their lives even worse. We pray for them, that they might be shown the love of Jesus Christ and that the peace which transcends all understanding will be for all people so that they might find out what it means to be joyful in Jesus Christ, our Lord and our Saviour. Amen.