These are the readings for this morning.
“Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you”
Reading through the Philippians reading this morning, I found this bit, the last part of the reading, to be rather striking in relationship to Lent. I was talking with a couple of friends yesterday about Lent and the idea of giving up.During this conversation, the topic came around to the idea of taking on. That is, using Lent as a time where we adopt a new practice, rather than give something up. This idea is often connected with the idea of carrying out some act of service or action towards justice during Lent.
This is a commendable idea, especially when it is practiced alongside of giving something up. I say alongside, because it is too easy for us to use taking something on as an excuse for not be willing to deny ourselves any of life’s pleasures. Having said that, I do also realize that it is a challenge every year to give up something without making it seem anything other than a tired and trite ritual.
Another difficulty with giving something up is the tendency to what to replace the thing given up with something quite similar. Instead of drinking our four cups of coffee a day, we end up drinking four cups of tea a day, etc. So taking on something new, is one way of filling the void with something that is no focused on ourselves, which is a good thing.
Which brings me back to the reading this morning. Paul is calling on the Philippians not simply to get rid of thoughts that are harmful, but rather to engage in the activity of thinking on those things that are true, honourable, just, etc. It is not enough to merely empty out the negative, and sinful thoughts from our minds, we need to take the habit of thinking of things that are modeled on the character of Christ.
Clearly our thought life should have some effect on our active life and as we think more about these things that are pleasing, commendable excellent, etc., our lives will be transformed in such away that our actions will also begin to meet these same criteria. Hopefully, in doing so, we will see the world around us transformed, little by little, towards orienting itself towards these same values.
May this be so, in and through the power of Christ. Amen.