Monday 5th October 2020 1 Thessalonians – Thanksgiving
1 Thessalonians 1
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.
We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that he has chosen you, because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of people we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place where your faith in God has become known, so that we have no need to speak about it. For the people of those regions report about us what kind of welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath that is coming.
Read this first chapter of the first letter to the Thessalonians and I suspect that many of us come away with that ‘feel good’ factor. The letter is thought to be one of the oldest – probably the oldest – of the books contained in the New Testament. Written in about 51 CE merely twenty years after Jesus’ death and resurrection and here were a group of people for whom the gospel had come alive. Not only had it come alive for them in Thessalonica but they had spread the message through the province of Macedonia and Achaia.
In this prayer of thanksgiving, Paul talks of them as faithful, hopeful and loving, chosen by God but crucially people who responded with joy, inspired by the Holy Spirit. It was this joy and inspiration that enabled the gospel message to be spread beyond their own city. And so it was that Paul gave thanks, not just for a group of faithful people but in recognition that God is at the centre of their lives and the journey of faith which they are travelling.
Wouldn’t any church be pleased to receive such affirmation and encouragement. 2000 years later it might cause us to look carefully at our own situation and to ask the question ‘is this the church to which I belong?’
As I write this at the end of May we have lived through 10 weeks of lockdown. There is much talk of what the world post Corvid-19 might look like and encouragement to churches to think about how the experience will shape their future ministry and mission. Of one thing we can be sure, as the Thessalonians had found, that future must be built on having God at the centre, enabling a faithful, hopeful and loving people to be witnesses in a changing world.
we hear your call to be faithful, hopeful and loving citizens of your kingdom.
May our joy in your service inspire us to witness to you, our living and true God.