Faith in Challenging Times

We live in anxious times: the possibility of war to the north, a fragile economy and
the worry of rising interest rates; the breakdown of moral values, rising numbers
of refugees in need of a home, family disintegration and domestic violence and an
epidemic of hard drug use. And the church in Australia, like most Western countries, is in
decline. There is one certainty in life: we always live in uncertain and challenging
times.
In this, we differ little from the period when St Edward the Confessor King ruled
from 1042 to 1066 during what would be the last days of the Anglo-Saxon world. (Harold
Godwinson succeeded him and was briefly the last Anglo-Saxon king of England, being
defeated at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 by the Norman, William 1).  St Edward is
remembered for his piety and his re-endowmentof the Benedictine monastery
and building their first abbey church on the banks of the Thames River, Westminster,
London. It was rebuilt in its current Gothic style by King Henry III and reconsecrated
1269.
For Paul who wrote the letter to the Philippians, it was an even more uncertain
period politically and socially, under house arrest, awaiting trial in Rome. The Philippian
church he writes to faces its own issues of Jewish Christians flaunting their superiority
and questioning the validity of the Greco-Roman Christians’ experience (3:1-11). A
horrible division had occurred in the church due to two of the leading women falling out
over some issue (4:2-3). And many were swollen with pride, grumbling about the
rosters or some such issue in the fellowship (ch 2).
Paul’s response to his situation is not to lose his head. Rather, it is to stand firm in the Lord (4:1); to rejoice in the Lord always (4:4). Don’t be anxious about anything (4:6). Pray. Present your requests to God (6:6). Paul is not ‘dreaming’, but a realist. He knows the dark side of human nature (2:15; 3:19). But he knows the Lord even better. The Lord is near, bringing peace (4:9), and sustaining him during this difficult period.

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