Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends! I plead with Euodia, and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, to help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the Book of Life. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:1-9
With Christmas just a couple of weeks away, it’s so easy to become overwhelmed with our long to-do lists filled with activities like shopping for the perfect gifts and trimming the tree and not-so-fun errands and chores like going grocery shopping and preparing our homes for guests. Of course, there is nothing wrong with doing any of these things. In fact, many of them are what make the Christmas season so special and create great memories. But they also drain and deplete us, making this one of the most hectic times of the year.

For some of us, the stress comes as we look back over the past year with some regrets and disappointments or look toward the coming year with trepidation and anxiety. There are also many people who find themselves alone or in mourning during this season. Whatever emotions Advent stirs up for us, we can find encouragement and hope in Apostle Paul’s exhortation to the Philippian church. In response to a dispute between two women, Paul urges them and the entire faith community to take their concerns to God instead of trying to fix things on their own. This message is meant for us, too. When we bring God into our challenges and circumstances, we find the kind of peace that only God can provide. Nothing we face is too big or too small for God to handle. It is God’s desire to journey with us in all the events of our lives.

Paul’s letter also teaches us to be intentional and careful about what we spend our time thinking about. Our busyness often leads us to lose sight of what we are supposed to be celebrating. Paul reminds us that Christ embodied everything that is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. As his disciples, we can focus on these virtues, too, when we put Christ at the center of all we do this season.

Prayer: Loving God, help us experience hope and peace amid this season that can be so hectic and difficult. May we sense your presence all around us, uplifting us and reminding us that you are near no matter what we feel this season. Amen. Written by Alicia Grey

Emmanuel God With Us Forever
Before you set the age of time
Foundations of the earth and sky
You saw it all
You said that it was good
The joy was set before your eyes
You knew that you would give your life
You saw it all
You said that it was good
Behold behold the one (2X)
Our love is come
Then heavens wore
The earth stood still
His final breath
He tore the veil
The angels sang holy is his name
God with us forever
Savior of the world
Emmanuel Emmanuel

Songwriters: Kyle Wayne Lee, Anthony Warren Skinner, Katie Torwalt, Bryan Torwalt Performed by: Katie Torwalt, Bryan Torwalt