1 Thessalonians 5:11
Those were the words from the second reading from Sunday November 15. This letter by Paul is thought to be the earliest writing of the New Testament. Before the Gospels were written, before all the rest of the canon was put together we have these words written to a people who were the first generation of Gentile Christians. And it seems that they are struggling.
The Second Coming, a major factor in the early Churches belief, hadn’t happened. It has been 20 some years since the death and resurrection of Jesus and these people wondered when it might happen. Perhaps they were beginning to lose their faith and needed some encouragement.
Paul let’s them know gently that no one knows the times or places of what might unfold, but there is something they can do right then and there, and the above verse reflects that very thing. They are to encourage and build one another up. Now that’s good advice during uncertain times.
And believe me I know we live in those uncertain times. We are struggling with what to do next, Thanksgiving travel or none? When is it all over? The very same question those early Christians had.
It is easy to resort to complaining and grumbling as we struggle, but Paul knew that wasn’t helpful. Leaders and followers need encouragement not the grumbling over things that can’t be changed. Paul says to encourage, to thank, to hang in there when times are uncertain for we are not alone. Because whether we realize it or not Christ is still present in this world and in the places where we live. We don’t have to wait for the end, but engage safely in the present and the future. I don’t know when all this is going to end, but I do know Emmanuel, God with us, is
Let us pray...
Holy one, it is easy to loose sight of our hope in these troubled times. Help us to reach out and encourage our leaders and our followers. Help us to engage in the building up of our communities of faith that can provide hope for a world filled with sickness. In Jesus name, Amen.