'A Reflection' 



From the service on 20th September



A Reflection for 16th Sunday after Trinity  




A Reflection


In today’s New Testament reading we find Paul writing from prison to the Christian community in Philippi.  There’s been an argument going on between the leaders of the church there, and Paul appeals to them to seek to discover together what is true by having “the same mind as was in Christ Jesus”.


The thought behind Paul’s words is a simple one.  None of us can ever hope to fathom out the thoughts or purpose of God because God is always beyond our imagination and comprehension.  We believe as Christians, though, that God has expressed something crucial of what his very heart and will is in the life of Jesus.  Therefore, if our minds and thoughts could be Christ Jesus’ minds and thoughts – as it were – we would know that we were in tune with the heart and mind of God.


Christians sometimes say we should try to understand what Jesus himself would think or do or say if he were in our shoes, and act likewise.  “WWJD” – an abbreviation for “What would Jesus do?” – is a code which they follow to try to keep on the right track.  People even wear bracelets or wristbands with WWJD on, to remind them to think in that way every moment of every day.


But how do we actually know what the mind of Christ is?  Do we need to keep a mass of facts and details about Jesus at our disposal, so we can instantly re-call them at a moment’s notice?  Do we need to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the words of Jesus, or of biblical phrases, at our figure tips – ready to apply to the questions or situations thrown up by life?


Well, being familiar with the life and teaching of Jesus is obviously important – so too is being “steeped in the scriptures”, as the old phrase puts it – but it could be that knowing the mind of Christ is a rather different kind of exercise.


Paul unpacks what it means, as he writes to the Philippians, by sharing with them a well-known early Christian hymn.  The words speak of Christ Jesus emptying himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in human likeness, and humbling himself even to the point of accepting death on a cross. 


We ourselves come to know the mind of Christ when we live out our faith in that way too.  As Christians, like Jesus we are called to live lives of service, humility and faithfulness.  Those attributes are highlighted in the ordination service for Deacons – and so they are fresh in our minds today following the service in Worcester Cathedral yesterday.  But being a servant to others, being humble and following God’s way is something every one of us is called to.


I found this prayer entitled “Humility” the other day.  I don’t know who wrote it, or anything at all about it, but it seems apt for today, so I’m going to conclude by reading it:




O Christ, sovereign Lord of heaven and earth

you humbled yourself to dwell among us

and chose always the place

which would arouse not envy,

which no pride would approach or inhabit.

You chose a poor maid for your mother;

a cattle-stall for your cradle;

saw, hammer, and chisel for your schooling;

nowhere to lay your head,

though you were teaching the whole world;

spitting for your face, the lash for your back,

thorns for your crown;

bare wood, sharp iron for your bed of death;

for your Godhead, a grave in earth.


Humility has no pattern but you.


By your lowliness, O Lord,

slay my worst,

my pride, and all its little satisfactions,

and its cravings for more.

And enable me, for your glory,

to imitate your glory,

and heart, mind and soul,

and choose the lowest room.




re late to the party, they should be invited in, given a balloon, a piece of cake and party blower. Because if God accepts late comers with grace and mercy, then so should we. Amen