Saturday, December 9, 2017


1 Thessalonians 2:13-20

How do we wait? 

For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea.

Many practicing Christians know that Advent is a time of waiting. In the four weeks before Christmas we remember the promises of God in the past and look forward to Christ coming again. We are waiting, yes. But, I wonder, are we longing for God while we wait? Do we feel like we need Jesus to show up again to usher in God’s peace? Or have thousands of years of waiting numbed us to the promises? Has the long wait turned us into Christians who sit politely in pews like we are at an airport gate instead of creating a community that is out in the world imitating Christ?

Paul applauds the new Christians in Thessalonica for being imitators of the Judean churches and choosing the Jesus Way, despite persecution. In their faith and their actions, they have set themselves apart from the status quo with their passion for Christ. They keep the faith in the face of suffering.

For many of us today, our faith is no longer a matter of life and death, but one of commitments. When we commit our lives to Christ in the United States in 2017, what most of us really mean is we commit our thoughts, our time and our money for a few hours a week. We are not really committing our bodies. For many of us there is no danger in proclaiming or acting upon our faith. I thank God for that freedom.

But, sometimes I wonder if it dulls our commitment. The Jesus Way spread like fire in the crucible of the Roman Empire. At its heart Christianity is a faith built upon the love of God in Christ and the hope of God's peace or Shalom. Christianity was formed in opposition to the exploitation and injustice of God’s beloved people.

We worship a God who promises to heal the broken hearted and bind up their wounds. The God who proclaims freedom for the captives and release to the prisoners (Isaiah 61:1 and Luke 4:18) — the literally captive and imprisoned, not just the spiritually wounded and captive. We worship a God who promises to never leave us or forsake us, even in death. That faith created martyrs who were no longer afraid to die. Martyrs who imitated every aspect of Christ. 

Perhaps this Advent should be a time of active waiting instead of passive reflection. A time when we demonstate the promises of God, live out the actions of Jesus and imitate the faith of the Thessalonians.

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