12/11/12 Richmond Jones, (T’15)
Isaiah 13-17, 24-25
1 Thessalonians 5:12-28
But we appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to respect those who labor among you, and have charge of you in the Lord and admonish you; esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the faint hearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.
May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this. Beloved, pray for us. Greet all the brothers and sisters with a holy kiss. I solemnly command you by the Lord that this letter be read to all of them. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. -1 Thessalonians 5:12-28
At the heart of the Advent season is the call to ready ourselves for the second coming of Christ. This might seem different than what the department stores, radio programming, tv specials, and out neighbor’s decorations are telling us. But a glimpse at today’s reading from Thessalonians shows the call to ready ourselves. And to make it even better they give us all the steps we need to take to do that. The text calls on us to do all those wonderfully Christian things that always seem just out of reach. To show charity at your most impatient times, to smile at the snowbird who almost ran you in to the median, and to turn away from all the little daily missteps that push us away from the Christian path.
Looking closely at this text it can been seen that it speaks to our entire day as Christians. Paul is ending his letter to the Thessalonians and he share a how-to on living as a Christian. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances,” is my favorite excerpt. Most of our connotations towards the end of times seem to be influenced by the apocalyptic scenes of the book of Revelations and movies like Mad Max. But instead of stocking up on the canned goods and welding steel siding to school buses we are told that what we need to do is be thankful and converse with Jesus throughout our day. Unfortunately, when our lives are bustling with classes, clubs, exercise, and work those things can get left by the wayside.
This is where the liturgical calendar is our friend. As was mentioned earlier, the Advent season is meant for us to focus inwardly. It is a time of the year when we look at ourselves and center in on the lessons left to us on how to live our daily lives with Christ. In the text from Thessalonians, the list Paul makes can be lived on a daily basis. We encounter setbacks in every facet of our lives and by inviting Jesus into them they shift to moments of growth. The intentionality that comes with constantly rejoicing, praying ceaselessly, and perpetually giving thanks takes us deeper into what it means to truly live like Christ meant us to. We become fountains of grace and charity to others because we have filled ourselves up by always keeping Christ in our minds. So take time today to evaluate the places in your day where Christ can help you grow. As we move through Advent we can keep them in our minds and through God’s grace and our intentionality they will become habit. “Test everything; and hold fast to what is good.”