December 10, 2009

Dec. 10: The Lord is near

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By Becky Horst, associate registrar, grants coordinator and convocation coordinator
SCRIPTURE: Philippians 4:4-7 (NRSV)
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DEVOTIONAL:
What does “The Lord is near” mean in verse 5 of today’s Scripture?

This phrase first stuck in my memory when I encountered it in a James Herriot book about his country veterinarian practice in England. The owner of one of Herriot’s clients was confined to bed with a painful, long-term illness, but she was one of the cheeriest persons he knew. A motto hanging above her bed said simply “The Lord is near.”

Some scholars think this phrase is about timing and is connected to the previous two sentences in today’s Scripture passage. They say that “The Lord is near” means “Jesus is coming again very soon,” so rejoice always and treat others gently in preparation for his coming.

Some scholars think that “The Lord is near” is about proximity and is connected to the following verses. It means “God is present and attentive to us” so don’t worry about anything. Take your needs and your gratefulness to God in prayer. The Victorian poet Alfred Lord Tennyson expresses this thought memorably in his poem “The Higher Pantheism:”

Speak to Him for He hears, and Spirit with Spirit can meet.
Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet.

Jesus is coming soon. God is present here and now. These are both beautiful truths to ponder and proclaim during Advent.

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SCRIPTURE: Philippians 4:4-7 (NRSV)

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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Comments (11)

  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about “The Lord is Near”. It challenged me to remember that always!

    Mary K. Mishler December 10, 2009 |
  2. The Lord is near….very helpful comments today. Thanks.

    Jep Hostetler December 10, 2009 |
  3. Thank you Becky it gives me assurance to now the Lord is Near!!!!!!!

    robert December 10, 2009 |
  4. I love those verses. They are comforting to know that “The Lord is near” and knows everything about us and we can have God’s peace “which surpasses all understanding.”

    Marge Brandeberry December 10, 2009 |
  5. This is one of my favorite scriptures–and I’m grateful for your devotional exposition! This goes in my spiritual journal for repeat readings. Thank you!

    Bonnie Sowers December 10, 2009 |
  6. Thank you, Becky! I’m pondering the hope these two truths bring my life. Good news indeed!

    Shana Peachey Boshart December 10, 2009 |
  7. I do appreciate the reminder again of the two possible meanings of this scripture. Knowing the nearness of the Lord in one’s daily journey is comforting and assuring. Kowing that the coming of Jesus a second time may be nearer than we think gives expectation and anticipation—and an impetus to faithful and joyful living. Thanks, Becky!

    Irene Bechler December 10, 2009 |
  8. Thank you for today’s advent devotion. I am in a dark time, and it has been increasingly difficult to remember/believe that God really is near. He is coming again, and He is present with me always, He is alive and seated upon His throne, and more than able to take me through this valley.

    ashlee December 10, 2009 |
  9. Thanks Becky for the reminder of OUR LORD”S nearness, it brings peace at the end of a busy/stressful day.

    Jo Mick December 10, 2009 |
  10. Thank you, Becky. We need to be reminded of this scripture often! Your comments are helpful.

    Ethel Umble December 12, 2009 |
  11. i am looking on yahoo, came to your post, i read couple of your post very nice.
    hoping to read more such post in future.

    psychic December 26, 2009 |