We have reached the fourth Sunday of Lent, more than halfway to Easter, and the whole church pauses to take a breath. We let up just a bit on the discipline of the season, to be sure we don’t forget the joy which lives in us. I recall hearing a Greek priest friend explaining to his parish the demanding rules of the Orthodox fast. He then paused, and said, “But sometimes you just have to go out for fried chicken, and that’s OK!” In many western churches, the somber purple of Lent gives way for a day to rose. This Sunday, known in the Liberal Catholic tradition as Refreshment Sunday, always reminds me of the late Father Bill Fleming. Invariably on this Sunday, Father Fleming would process to the front of the church, turn around, and quip, “Don’t I look pretty in pink?”
In the epistle (from Philippians 4), Paul enjoins us to rejoice, but advises, Let your moderation be known unto all. In real joy, there is balance. Paul also speaks of his contentment in all states of being: I know both how to be abased and how to abound. This gift of contentment is given through finding his peace and strength in Christ.
Come, contentment, lovely guest,
reign unrivaled in my breast,
thou alone wilt do,
thou alone canst fill the soul,
every passion canst control
when the stormy billows roll
thou canst bear me though.
(Shaker gift song, 1833)
It has been a rough week, both in the blogosphere and the rest of life, and I am living with the question of how to be content in all circumstances.
The gospel is the feeding of the 5000 from John 6. Not unlike the disciples, we often find such a small amount of refreshment, of comfort and peace, that we wonder how it will meet our needs, much less those of others. And yet, in the light of the ever-shining sun of beauty and harmony (from the collect of the day) even the smallest amount multiplies, nourishing us and all whom we meet. May the peace that passes understanding fill us this week.