The word most often accompanies a shrug of the shoulders, a tone of apathy if not of cynicism. When a question is asked, asking for a choice between here or there, this or that, now or then, the answer can so easily be … ‘Whatever’. Quite different the use of the word by the apostle Paul in his letter to the church of Philippi (Philippians 4:8).

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This phrase is presented in a detail of a window of the sanctuary of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church Ottawa, executed in 1926 by James A. Ballantyne of Edinburgh Scotland. Three heavenly visitors are portrayed, representing Love, Truth and Justice. They appear to a man at his devotions, Bible open, with the phrase of Revelation 2:10 highlighted ‘Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life’. How is one faithful in life and even unto death? The answer is given in the words of the apostle, ‘whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things’.

Far from the ‘whatever’ of a shrug, the word here is used to emphasize the active, discerning, disciplined Christian endeavour of identifying the good in this world of grace, and ‘thinking upon them’, celebrating them, encouraging them, sharing them. I am always struck how open ended is this exhortation – ‘whatever’ as in ‘everywhere’, ‘with every opportunity’ and ‘at all times’. Seen in a stained glass window, our first thoughts are of the saving ‘things’ and ways of God. But what is begun in the sanctuary is to be continued in all the spaces and relationships of the world beyond. The ‘service’ of the Christian is to hold back the powers of darkness by participating in the good of our world, whatever it may be – in the realm of art and music, or community service and advocacy for justice within the nation.

Join us this Sunday as we hear the words of Paul, rejoicing in the things of God known in Christ Jesus, and considering how each of us might better respond, to the glory of God and the good of neighbour. There is free on street parking and in a public surface lots on Queen Street just behind the church. During the service a nursery is offered for young children. Have a look at the Order of Service below … and start humming some of the great hymns in preparation!

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