Lectionary Readings for the Day:
Morning Ps. 122, 145
Evening Ps. 40, 67
1 Thess. 1:1-10
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 labor 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. – 1 Thessalonians 1:2-5
I love words. I love reading beautiful poetry and prose. I love pondering on every word that we speak together in our liturgy each week. I can spend hours crafting and re-crafting the words of my sermon. I will use entirely too many words to write this “brief” devotional. But as much as I love words, I know that words alone are not sufficient.
I was struck by the phrase in this letter to the church in Thessalonica: “our message of the gospel came to you not in word only.” The good news of Jesus Christ is not mere words. And I think Paul makes this point in his words of greeting to this church, speaking of their work of faith, their labor of love, their steadfastness of hope. Good news takes effort. We cannot merely speak it. We have to live it. It is not about just having faith, hope, and love and speaking in platitudes. We are called to the hard work of living out that faith, hope and love each and every day.
So as we begin this Advent season – this season of sacred waiting for God in Christ to come again – how will we wait? Will we speak of our hope and faith and love while busily scrambling through the holiday season just like everyone else? Or will we pause to ponder what this time really means for us? Will we take time to wonder at this sacred season? I pray that we will not simply offer words of hope and faith and love. Instead, let us embody this deep hope and faith and love – serving as walking and talking agents of the good news of Jesus Christ to a world desperate to experience it.
Holy God, thank you for this sacred season we call Advent. In the midst of the busy-ness around us, help us move beyond our words. May we work to embody your good news wherever we may go. Amen.