Good morning on this beautiful fall day!
Today’s scripture: .
1 Thessalonians 3:6-1New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
6 But Timothy has just now come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love. He has told us also that you always remember us kindly and long to see us—just as we long to see you. 7 For this reason, brothers and sisters, during all our distress and persecution we have been encouraged about you through your faith. 8 For we now live, if you continue to stand firm in the Lord. 9 How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? 10 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith. 11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. 12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you.
1 Thessalonians was probably one of Paul’s first letters to a church. Scholars think it might have been written as early as 50 CE which also might make this one of the earliest books of the New Testament if not the earliest. We know Paul was writing from afar…some say Corinth. Others think maybe he was writing from Athens when Timothy joins back up with him. Wherever he is, he isn’t in Thessalonica and needs to communicate to this church that is very dear to his heart. This church represents part of himself that he has put out in the world and they are carrying on his work.
Like a parent or a great leader, it is hard to let that project go, I am sure. You send something out into the world and then a piece of you stays with that dear one, doesn’t it? It is so hard to let go, that Paul sends another leader to check in and help with this budding project. He sends an extension of himself but Timothy can’t stay. So Paul writes…he gushes out onto the page with heat language and affirmations. The church is doing work that Paul can’t possibly can’t be doing right now. In fact, he can’t even imagine what they are up to but knows that it is of God and has to have faith that it will turn out the way it should.
I sometimes have a hard time with that, don’t you? When I put something in the world that causes vulnerability and represents something of myself, it is hard to let others run with that. In the church world, this is death to the church for sure if I have to feel like I need that kind of control. If I don’t trust that the right people at the right time will step in, the program or worship service or idea is bound to fail. In order for it to work, collaboration and letting go of that idea is key. Hard to do! Paul does it by writing letters, encouraging those who are doing the work, and affirming over and over again. I can learn a lesson from this….instead of clenching on to what I think needs to happen, can I open up a little more? Can I keep my connection by affirming those doing the work and my partners in ministry? Can I speak with God’s presence and heart language?
There is another piece to this that is working on me as well….today is Veteran’s Day. (Exciting since I haven’t gotten to devote on Veteran’s Day before.:)). There is something of this letter from Paul that also allows me to give thanks to those who serve so devotedly for our country, who sacrifice for others. I have mixed feelings about the military but I can give great thanks for human beings who care so deeply. I have no idea what the military folks go through, I can only write to them with my heart and deep gratitude. This letter reminds me of those families who write to others far far away. This letter reminds me of those who need to hear from their community.
So take a moment to reflect and remember and affirm what God is doing in your life…what do you think about this passage?