Finding Joy: a letter to Philippi // Rejoicing Is an Act of Faith // Kate Murphy

We know that we — those of us worshiping at The Grove, those in our extended communities, our neighbors across the nation, and our brothers and sisters in the Church worldwide — are facing hard times.

But Paul reminds us in his letter to the church gathered in Philippi that even in hard times, we can still rejoice. We rejoice not because of anything we have done or because of things that are happening to us, but in faith because we know that God is continually at work in us.

When we discover that we are more sinful than we ever could have imagined and that the sin in our systems is deeper than we ever understood, we can still rejoice.

We can rejoice because God is good and God is for us. We are not doing great things for God. God is working out a great act of salvation in our world and us. And where we are right now is not the end of the story.

Despite everything going on in the world and how little control we have, God is living and is at work . We can be a testament to the fact the way things are is not the way they are supposed to be and is not the way they are going to be.

Listen in as we learn together — not that sin is rampant. We already knew that. But that we continue to bear witness — not to the evil that is passing away but to the goodness of God that is made manifest in Jesus Christ.

Finding Joy: a Letter to Philippi // Rejoicing Is an Act of Resistance // Kate Murphy

This month we are gathering around Paul’s letter to the church he planted in Philippi. Like us, they were separated from one another. They had no idea when, or if, they would ever be able to see one another again. Paul wrote to his friends from prison, with no guarantee he’d ever be released or that the church would survive his extended absence. Things were—grim.

And yet Paul continually encouraged them to rejoice—in the midst of the uncertainty, in the relationships they enjoyed, even in their suffering. Paul wasn’t telling them to cheer up. He wasn’t guilting them into expressing gratitude. He wasn’t encouraging them to close their eyes and play pretend. He was clearly acknowledging reality and teaching the church why, and how, to rejoice—anyway.

Rejoicing is an act of resistance. Joy is subversive. The powers and principalities of the false culture that is passing violently away would have us believe that joy is a scarce and limited commodity—available only to a select few at great price.  

But we know otherwise. 

Listen in and hear how the good news of the gospel makes it possible for us to authentically rejoice at all times.

Finding Joy: a Letter to Philippi // Love Is a Powerful Motivator // Kate Murphy

This Sunday, we launch a new worship series at The Grove on the book of Philippians. Back in January, we chose one theme to trace throughout this letter from Paul to the church: Joy.

Now, in this season of loss, anxiety, suffering, and violence, joy doesn’t just seem elusive—it seems offensive. But, maybe that’s just because we’ve never understood joy in the first place. Our current situation may seem like nothing we’ve ever known, but it’s not altogether dissimilar to Paul’s conditions when he wrote this joy-soaked letter.

Plagues were common, war was omnipresent, the state sanctioned violence as the most expedient way to achieve control, and Paul himself was writing from prison awaiting his execution. Yet, he wrote about joy. Not joy he expected to feel someday, as a reward, but the joy he knew—even in the midst of pain and threats.

Never have we ever needed the joy of the Lord more than we need it now. Thanks be to God that, through the scriptures, Paul bears witness to a joy we can tap into, not merely when it is most likely—but when we need it most.