1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.
We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that he has chosen you, because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of persons we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith in God has become known, so that we have no need to speak about it. For the people of those regions report about us what kind of welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead – Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath that is coming.
Yesterday, at the CoOp we talked about letting go of control. So at the earlier service I decided to open that up and let go of control for some of the sermon. I let it be known some of my uneasiness about this all but did it anyway. And I have to admit I did plant a few people to get the ball rolling…there needed to be just a hint of control. So I explained that I would be asking people to testify a bit (scary word for Methodists) about where God has been this past week in their lives. The first three people, the ones who had time to prepare talked about God moments in life in general. These moments were poignant and lovely.
And then I opened up the time. I was scared to death that the conversation would end there. And then the most amazing thing happened! People started raising their hands and getting excited to share where God has been this past week. I would guess probably 20 people shared a short testimony or story about a moment. Some were deep and poignant…some were sad but full of truth….some were light and funny…some where reflective…some were about the death of a loved one, brilliant rainbows and relationships. I was amazed at the stories that appeared when we opened up the time! The feeling that God was doing something was pretty palpable. Even the 10 year old in our midst shared about a poignant moment in her life this week that was full of wisdom and life.
I did a short wrap up of the sharing time and dove into scripture a bit and we continued on in worship. After the Benediction, I headed out back to my office to get ready for the next service and as I was dropping off some stuff and grabbing other stuff, one of the worshippers who did not speak stopped at the door. She said, “Pastor, I didn’t even know this was here!” So we chatted about the space a bit and then she looked at me in a different way and said, “I wish I had had the nerve to share a story.” So I asked her to share it with me. She proceeded to tell me a wonderful story of a moment where God saved her. It was a beautiful story and I am delighted she chose to share with me if no one else that morning. In that moment, she felt a bit more complete that someone else knew a powerful story full of God. The moment was shared and she apologized for taking time. I was touched by her honesty and her ability to show me where God showed up yesterday morning…in the moment where I had absolutely no control.
Paul this morning is talking about a God who shows up beyond words but in powerful moments. We then are so moved by God that we hear the call to follow. I believe we have these moments every day. Moments to share with one another deeply how God has saved our lives…saved us from ourselves, from the world in so many ways, and from our busy-ness. I believe that we “imitate” because we have seen something that moves us and fills our whole beings and it may not be on our own timeline. And after yesterday morning, I believe that people want deeply to talk about it.
Today perhaps chat with someone about where you have seen God this week or ask where God has shown up. Today take a moment to listen and reflect and chat. Enjoy the moment and feel deeply!