Tuesday, March 24th

“As for us, brothers and sisters, when, for a short time, we were made orphans by being separated from you–in person, not in heart–we longed with great eagerness to see you face to face. For we wanted to come to you–certainly I, Paul, wanted to again and again–but Satan blocked our way.  For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you?  Yes, you are our glory and joy!”  1 Thessalonians 2:17-20

 

In this 2nd chapter, Paul reminds his readers of the personal investment he made in their lives as he lived among them, teaching them about the faith, guiding them in their new found relationship with Jesus.  It wasn’t easy.  There were deep sacrifices on both sides – Paul, working night and day, and the Thessalonians, embracing a faith which challenged so many aspects of their lives.

 

As Paul writes so personally to the Thessalonians, we get a glimpse of the nature of the spread of the early Christian faith.  It wasn’t a philosophical movement marked by the guru in the front of the room while the transfixed disciples drink in the wisdom.  And it wasn’t a religious movement with a new set of rules and regulations for appeasing the gods which replaced the old set of rules and regulations.  What Paul was leading was a spiritual revolution marked by broken people gathering to hear and tell one another’s stories, knocking down dividing walls, and experiencing the power of God in the midst of it all.

 

It wasn’t wisdom or show or splendor that attracted the Thessalonians to Paul’s message.  It was more mysterious than that – the mystery of human authenticity, the mystery of truth telling, the mystery of falling in love.  The Thessalonians were not Paul’s clients, not even his parishioners, they were his friends.  He lived among them not because of what he could get out of them, but because it was the very nature of the faith into which Paul had been baptized that he share it and that he share it in community.

 

It wasn’t wisdom that attracted early converts to Christianity – it was love.

 

So Paul isn’t showing flattery when he tells the Thessalonians that they are his “glory and joy.”  He is telling the truth.  Their embracing of Paul’s faith is an encouragement to Paul and a vindication of the movement of God in Paul’s life.

 

As I send out today’s devotion I feel like I am in a time warp.  I have three more weeks to directly serve a congregation that I have poured my life into for the past fifteen years.  I will leave them with the same sense that Paul had toward the Thessalonians – they have given me glimpses of glory.  And then I will move on to a position in which I serve them indirectly, a position in which I will get to serve as cheerleader and coach to the newest congregations in our synod.  My prayer is that this same spirit which filled Paul for enthusiasm for ministry and the Thessalonians with a grateful eagerness to respond might continue to be the hallmarks of Christian community.

 

God is in the business of helping people, welcoming them, loving them, challenging them, shaping them, using them for holy purposes.  And when we gather as Christian community, it is our privilege to see that holy work of God happening in our midst.

 

Let us pray:  Gracious Lord, it is not good that we are alone.  So you gather us as a hen gathers her chicks.  You bring us into this company of strangers which is your Church and there you teach us how to love and be loved.  Continue to bless us as we share the journey of faith together.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

 

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One Response to “Tuesday, March 24th”

  1. Jim Bauser Says:

    Thanks so much for putting us in touch with Gene Kendall , who helped us immensely with the recent Pickleball class

    Also Best wishes for you in your new career. Change is difficult , but almost always good. It will energize yo beyond belief

    Jim and Karen Bauser

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