1 Thessalonians 3:9-139 How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? 10 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith. 11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. 12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. 13 And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
The cynical self muses that if we asked just about anyone in a box store about the “Season of Return”, they would talk about bringing an unwanted gift back to a store after Christmas. The Season of Return for those who believe in Jesus, the Son of God, is called Advent. Whereas many approach his coming, that we confess in the creeds, with fear and tribulation, Paul urges the Thessalonians, and us, to make this a time of growth and strengthening.
I thought for years that Advent is a time of preparedness, however, I have of late come to realize that no matter how hard we try, we will not be prepared. It is not in our nature, yet we can still try. So we lean on the hope that forgiveness remains part of the promise and let love for our neighbor be our dominant motivation for action. That love can be demonstrated by passive tolerance and acceptance, and/or by the active and intentional actions of feeding, housing, healing, protecting, and befriending. Those could be great strength building exercises.
We pray, Gracious God, it is only by the Holy Spirit that we can come to love, believe, or be prepared for the return of your Son. Let that Spirit be us and allow us to anticipate the future with joy and hope. AMEN
+ Bishop Rodger Prois
Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.