1 From Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy. To the Thessalonians’ church that is in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace and peace to all of you. 2 We always thank God for all of you when we mention you constantly in our prayers. 3 This is because we remember your work that comes from faith, your effort that comes from love, and your perseverance that comes from hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father. 4 Brothers and sisters, you are loved by God, and we know that he has chosen you. 5 We know this because our good news didn’t come to you just in speech but also with power and the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know as well as we do what kind of people we were when we were with you, which was for your sake. 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord when you accepted the message that came from the Holy Spirit with joy in spite of great suffering. 7 As a result you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The message about the Lord rang out from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia but in every place. The news about your faithfulness to God has spread so that we don’t even need to mention it. 9 People tell us about what sort of welcome we had from you and how you turned to God from idols. As a result, you are serving the living and true God, 10 and you are waiting for his Son from heaven. His Son is Jesus, who is the one he raised from the dead and who is the one who will rescue us from the coming wrath.1 Thessalonians 1
Paul, in writing to the church in Thessalonica, began with this grand greeting. He was
impressed that the message he received back to himself about the church there was regarding their service to others. For him, the clearest expression of faith was living out the Gospel of love in the community. This has always been an important part of being God’s people, and I think it is even more important now.
We are living in times more uncertain and strange than any of us have seen in our lifetimes. While our lives are disrupted from our normal routines and practices, we do have an amazing opportunity to BE the church in the world. We have a chance to show the world that the church is actually the people within it, that we do really love our neighbor. We have a new opening to demonstrate that the church is just as relevant, vital, loving, and real as it was in the time of Paul.
While we must be smart and heed the advice of our trained medical professionals, now is not the time to devolve into fear. In fact, with Easter Sunday on the horizon, we should be living after the life of the one who was raised from the dead, Jesus Christ. Even though it looks like we won’t be able to be together in person on that greatest of Sundays, we will be able to celebrate victory of life over death together. We don’t have to be in one place for that to happen. Let the news of our faithfulness as people of Christ outlive the disconnect of social distancing. Let our common celebration of life be louder than our shared fear of disease. Let us be examples of faith all through South Hill, and beyond. Let us be the kind of church that would make Paul (and Jesus) proud, like that of Thessalonica.
Be love. Be compassion. Be God’s people. Lives depend on it.
Yours in Christ,