Advent 2020 – Turning, Yearning & Encouraging
Based upon: 1 Thessalonians 3
By Mags Vaughan, Bishop’s Council – Please Share Widely
In the 3rd chapter of Paulâ€™s 1st letter to the ThessaloniansÂ the apostle Paul, gives us further evidence of his love forÂ the Thessalonians, reminding them of his sending Timothy to them. Paul tells of his great satisfaction at the return of Timothy, with good tidings concerning them. And concludes with a desire to see them soon and prays fervently for them.
Paul prays to God to open a way for him so he may travel to Thessalonica. It is God that he turns to for guidance in what is a very practical problem for him, an ordinary day toÂ day problem of life.Â Friends who are sailorsÂ and enjoy sailing on open seas will recount that they hardly ever listen to the weather forecasts when theyÂ are at home on shore but when they are on the seas, away from land for a few days they listen to the shipping and weather forecasts with an avid attention knowing their life may depend on themâ€¦.
When life is comfortable and safe it is quite possible to do without the weather forecasts, it is essential to listen to them when life may depend on themâ€¦â€¦
As with sailors, how many us manage very well in the day to day routine, turning only to God when attempting something new, being uncertain of an outcome?Â Â Paulâ€™s advice to the Thesssalonians is to turn to God in all things.
Paul writes: â€œnight and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you againâ€¦.â€
How many of us this year have yearned to see a loved one, but have been unable to do so?Â Â Separation has brought to light how families and communities are bundles of relationships, each variously needing or dependent on the other, old to young, young to old.Â Here, Paul and Timothyâ€™s relationship to the young church in Thessalonika resonates with us today â€“ Timothy is welcomed back from his visit with news of the young church, Paul is wanting to visitÂ them again â€“ and praying that God will â€œclear the wayâ€ for thatÂ visit.
Paul writes to encourage the work of the young Christians in Thessalonika,Â Paul is grateful for the model theyâ€™ve set for extending love and growing in holiness. Their commitment to faith has a ripple effect on those around them, starting from within and moving outward. Paulâ€™s encouragement is as relevant today for us as it was to those young Christians, as we seek to be a ripple effect in our communities in these challenging days.
So may our prayer for ourselves today be â€œLord makeÂ my love for you increase and overflow to those around me and those further afield, strengthen my heart, remind me to rely on you in the ordinary as we wait for your coming in Glory.â€