Everything you wanted to know about Christianity
at the Anglican Parish of the Otways
Please join me each week for our reflections
of sermons conducted during our church service.
Plus, occasional splashes of humour and epiphanies!
With much Love and Blessings
Rev. Jenny Brandon
MY Gran was big on proverbs,
she had a saying or silly song for everything,
but she was particularly big on perseverance proverbs.
"When the going gets tough, the tough get going,"
It made sense that she would emphasize persistence.
Having lived through two world wars,
and then the depression with a small family
in outback NSW she needed to be a strong minded lady.
She always wanted us to grow into strong individuals,
and fulfil our potential and contribute to society.
We could 'overcome anything if we put our mind to it',
she would remind us!
Paul, in writing to the Philippians,
was just as insistent as my Gran
that one can never give up
but must press on.
This was not a perseverance toward success
on the sporting field or in other personal goals,
but a perseverance of the soul.
He would want us to persevere in our walk with Christ
He is writing to the Philippians from prison.
His physical movements are severely limited.
He is certainly not engaged in any chariot races.
Yet this is the metaphor he chooses
to inspire the Philippians to press on.
It is an athletic, physical, and forward-moving metaphor.
"I do not consider that I have made it my own,
In Roman culture the circus, with its chariot races,
provided the most popular form of entertainment.
Philippians 3:13-14 describes the charioteer,
intent on the race,
his eyes fixed on the front,
not daring to look behind
lest the slightest pressure on the reins,
which wrapped around his body,
produce a false move and cause him to lose the race
and possibly his life.
Persistence proverbs are a staple of self-help,
We persist so we can succeed in personal goals.
Often, though not always,
perseverance is seen as a positive quality
because it is a means of winning out over others.
But for Paul it is a way to get closer to Christ.
It means not looking back,
but looking ahead toward Christ
with single-minded purpose.
Not looking back is an important part of perseverance.
Jesus himself in Luke 9:62 says
"No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back
The chariot metaphor is a perfect vehicle (pardon the pun!)
for Paul to explain to his readers,
that those who long to be like Christ,
face danger in looking back..
Dwelling on past achievements can bring complacency
and dwelling on past failures can make one despondent.
For Paul, both are best forgotten
in the interest of pressing on toward the objective.
He understood that God’s Spirit is constantly moving us forward
with little regard for the past,
past sins or disappointments.
For God these are just learning experiences for us
as we press on towards our spiritual goals.
Our race is not yet finished.
Our work is not yet done.
There is still much to do for Christ,
and much to be achieved in the quest to be like Christ.
There is an old Spiritual saying which expresses
Paul’s sentiment of determination and perseverance well:
"I have decided to follow Jesus.
No turning back, no turning back."
May the Lord be with you!
About the author
Rev. Jenny is an ordained Priest of the Anglican Diocese delivering services at Anglican Parish of the Otway churches every week.
With great depth of knowledge and a spiritual practice that shows she walks her talk and has taken her to the far reaches of N.T. Australia working with indigenous youth and elders.