Philippians 1:3–11 (NRSV)
Verse 3I thank my God every time I remember you, Verse 4constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, Verse 5because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. Verse 6I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.
Verse 7It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God's grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. Verse 8For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus.
Verse 9And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight Verse 10to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, Verse 11having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.
It is difficult to imagine that the Apostle Paul is actually writing from prison as he writes here to the Phillipians. He does not express fear or anger, but instead thanksgiving and joy for the gospel and concern for the community, reminding them to put love at the heart of their witness. We are still early in Advent, but I am reminded that the third Sunday of Advent is traditionally “Gaudete Sunday” or “Joy Sunday.” Paul’s words and example invite us to look for joy throughout this Advent, as we prepare for, as we anticipate this yearly reminder that God’s love is with us “until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Mothering God, we are so often caught in the prisons of our own brokenness, struggling to see beyond the hurt and the pain we have caused. Remind us of your grace, flood us with your love, draw us beyond our sinfulness, and breathe through us into relationship with all of Creation. Amen.