By Michael Smith
A Reading from Philippians 3:14-4:7
14 I press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you. 16 Only let us hold fast to what we have attained.
17 Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. 18 For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. 19 Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. 21 He will transform the body of our humiliation so that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself. 1 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.
2 I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Easier said than done on this day 20 years ago, when nearly 3,000 people were killed by terrorist attacks in the U.S. For those of us who remember, worry, fear, confusion, anger, and shock were the order of the day as we struggled to come to terms with what was unfolding before our very eyes. There are days that live in infamy in the heart and soul of a people: 9/11, the assassination of JFK, the bombing of Pearl Harbor. We all remember where we were when we learned of the news.
And yet, there is a generation of young people who have no personal memory of these traumatic days. They have moved on, and so must all who will never forget but are challenged to face the future set before us. Jesus once asked, “Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?” (Matt. 6:27). Worry about the future robs us of the peace of the present moment. Jesus also said, “strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matt. 6:33) instead of worrying. Even in the darkest and most traumatic of days, God is with us and already working to bring good out of even the most evil situations. Even if it’s impossible to trust and to pray with thanksgiving in the present moment, hang in there. Help is on the way. While striving for the kingdom of God, sometimes waiting on God takes an act of will.
Michael G. Smith served as bishop of North Dakota for fifteen years and is currently the Assistant Bishop of Dallas. He works with the Navajoland Iona Collaborative and is a Benedictine Oblate and an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Richmond, Va.
The Diocese of Etsako (Church of Nigeria)