An Advent Journey: Stop, Look, Listen – Day 10

Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Do not put out the Spirit’s fire. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold onto what is good, reject whatever is harmful.

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

Brothers and sisters, pray for us. Greet all God’s people with a holy kiss. I charge you before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers and sisters.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.  — 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28, TNIV

Do you see that lovely table up there? The one with the Christmas trees behind it? That one picture sort of sums up our story as followers of the the Itinerant Rabbi, doesn’t it? From nativity to calvary, right there in one snapshot. But that isn’t the whole story, actually. You see, the rest of the story pours out in the lovely — and practical — words that come beneath the photo.

Because even though we’re approaching Christmastide, we are, first and foremost, an Easter People. There is an empty tomb, there is Pentecost and there is the church. And Paul’s beautiful last chapter to the church in Thessalonica just spells out that truth in glorious prose. 

Do not put out the Spirit’s fire! We live in the age of the Spirit of God, when that comforting, fire-building, provocative third person of the Trinity is at work in our world. . . through the likes of us. And Paul’s words are the ones we need to bear in mind as we move through the mixed-up messiness of all our days, maybe most especially these days of Advent. 

“Encourage . . . , help . . . , be patient . . . , rejoice . . . , pray . . . , give thanks . . . These are the verbs of our story, the ones we need to remember, time after time after time. The words we are asked to live out each and every day. The ones that ‘he who is faithful,’ will work out in us for our growth and the world’s good. 

Father, Son and Spirit – breathe these beautiful verbs into our very marrow, would you please? Encourage our hearts with how they sound, and what they look like in action. Help us to live into them as we interact with one another. Because that’s how we keep your grand story going, isn’t it? 

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  1. Beautifully said. A great way to start ny day

  2. I am so grateful that I am getting these reflections in my inbox, Diana. You are keeping me centered, my friend. Yes…an Easter people, indeed.

  3. Thanks for coming by, Adela, and leaving such encouraging words.

  4. Thank you for reading them, Laura. And so many blessings of the season to you, dear friend.

  5. I absolutely love this D., I love the verbs of our story. I will never forget that phraseology. It will stay within my spirit forever. Today was the day I needed your words here….What they look like in action….yes. Help us to live into them as we interact with one another…. Your words here are a soothing balm to my spirit.

  6. Thanks so much, Elizabeth! Doing this daily thing, I sometimes wonder if anyone reads it besides me. But then, I’m doing it primarily for my own reflection – so I will not complain. Instead, I will say that finding these lovely words is a wonderful bonus! Thank you.

  7. The verbs of our story…and you are living those verbs. Thank you for doing the daily thing…my heart is one that is encouraged. And I, for one, am reading.

  8. Thanks so much, Anne, both for reading and for commenting.