July 3rd

Do you have a favourite Bible reading that you turn to in good times and bad and when stressed? Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd” is a popular choice but mine has been Philippians 4: 4–8 since I was eleven. It was read by the headmistress on my first day in Senior School, and read by me on my final day. It has accompanied me through university, and since, being the reading on several occasions when I badly needed Paul’s advice. The reading is cheerful and calm and made sense even to an eleven-year old.

By the way, have you ever noticed that Paul usually puts practical advice near the end of his letters? When something is read aloud, you remember the last bits more than the middle.

Like us, Paul’s first hearers would have been a mixture of happy, sad, worried, rich and poor but he tells them all, “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice”. God is with us, and will be with us, regardless of our mood.

“Do not worry… but in everything with prayer and supplication let your requests be made known to God”. (As an eleven-year old I had to ask at home what supplication meant and God did not supply the bicycle that I so much wanted!)

Then “Whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is anything worthy of praise think about these things”.

Maybe this piece sounds like a wellness guru in the Sunday paper. It is still good advice.

Margaret Clements