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When things get heated and divided, we as a church are committed to focusing on Christ-centered thoughts, and rejoicing in all that God has given us.



4 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.

8 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, 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. 9 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.

Introduction/Focus Points

We haven’t talked a whole lot yet about one of my favorite activities: Cycling!
Cycling is a weird sport, because it comes with a whole host of disciplines and varieties.
Some people ride around on beach cruisers on their local walking trail.
Some people like me ride road bikes, which allow you to rack up huge amounts of miles, but put you at odds with aggressive drivers and terrible Pittsburgh hills!
Some people are getting in to a new style of riding called Gravel biking, which is riding a road bike with fat tires on old fire roads and things like that, so it’s a bit more challenging terrain but no cars.
And some of my friends like to ride mountain bikes.
My friend Justin is a big mountain biker, and also happens to be one of those people that I am always trying to impress, so when I’m around Justin we tend to go for a ride.
We load up the bikes on the back of his truck and make his way to this local trail.
He tells me while we’re in the truck, on our way down the highway, when there is absolutely no way for me to jump out of the moving vehicle, that the trail we are about to hit is extremely technical.
What mountain bikers mean by this is that there are boulders and cliffs and bears and stuff that will jump out at you and get in the way, and you have to navigate this trail without falling on your head.
I am used to road cycling, where the biggest obstacle I have to ride over tends to be the loose gravel from some guy’s driveway!
But! Have to impress Justin!
While we’re going, I realized that if I looked straight at my front wheel, I was doing fine. I was just reacting to what was under me, and I could pick my lines pretty easy and get through it. Slow, but get through it.
When I started to look down the trail, or get too worried about the next big rock after this big rock, or even just try to take in the scenery around me, I would wind up in the ditch.
I wound up in the ditch a lot that day!
Where we put our focus really matters.



We’ve come to the end of this letter, and Paul finally puts down in words what he’s been working on the whole way through.
There are two women in the church, Euodia and Synthyche.
They are leaders in the church at Philippi.
And all we know about them, literally the only thing that we have about them, is that they worked with Paul and Clement to spread the gospel, but now they’ve gotten in to some sort of argument.
I almost like it better that we don’t know what they were arguing about, because we can apply it to just about any situation that is going in our world today.
Maybe Euodia thought the carpet in fellowship hall should be red, and Synthyche thought it should be blue.
Maybe Euodia thought that more money should be kept for the members of the church, and Synthyche thought that they should be more active in mission and outreach.
Maybe Euodia was a Democrat, and Synthyche was a Republican.
Maybe Euodia was a Penguins fan, and Synthyche was a Flyers fan.
It really almost doesn’t matter what the disagreement was, because as we know maybe a bit too well there will be disagreements in the church.
While I still have my boyish looks about me, I have at this point served 6 churches in some capacity or another on staff.
There is a universal truth that when you get sinners together in one building for any length of time, they will disagree.
A lot of times those disagreements will come from within, about matters of theology or budget or ministry,
And other times we bring in the disagreements of the world to our community, like mud stuck to our shoes.
A mentor of mine who has been in ministry for 30 years said that the three hardest times for him to be a pastor are when the nation is facing an economic downturn, when racial tensions in our nations rise to the surface, or when it’s an election year.
Add to that a global pandemic, and we have a lot on our minds right about now, don’t we?
There seem to be two responses to the divisions we face on a regular basis as Christians:
Pour an inordinate amount of focus and attention in to our divisions and disagreements
Pretend they don’t exist.
Paul argues there’s a better way.

Rejoice! No really, Rejoice!

One of my favorite things to do for folks is to ask them twice how they’re doing.
How are you?
No really. How are you?
Usually after that second one, I get a much more detailed and complex answer.
It’s like we’ve broken through the routine and gotten in to something more interesting.
To say to a Christian “Rejoice in the Lord” can almost do the same thing.
Yeah yeah yeah.
Too blessed to be stressed!
I’m trying!
Paul says Rejoice in the Lord
No really, Rejoice.
Yes, right now.
Yes, in the midst of the division.
Yes, in the efforts to bring about unity.
Yes, in these difficult times.
Let me say it again! Rejoice!
Interesting here too that Paul doesn’t tell you that things are better, and that’s why you need to rejoice.
There may still be division.
There may still be those that disagree with you.
There may still be problems waiting for you just outside the door.
Can you rejoice in those too?

Gentle now!

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