Saturday 10th October 2020 -I Thessalonians – Thanking God
1 Thessalonians 3: 6 – 13
But Timothy has just now come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love. He has told us also that you always remember us kindly and long to see us—just as we long to see you. For this reason, brothers and sisters, during all our distress and persecution we have been encouraged about you through your faith. For we now live, if you continue to stand firm in the Lord. How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith. Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. 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. 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.
Six United Reformed Church Synods are due to meet on this day, but will they? This is written during the lockdown brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic which would prohibit such gatherings and leads me to wonder about the function and value of such events. There is Church business to which attention has to be given but which rarely proves contentious, there is information sharing which may be done more effectively than by mail or email, but, above all, there is the opportunity to meet and share what is happening in the life of our congregations and to catch up with friends from other churches.
Paul had not been able to return to the Thessalonians himself so had sent Timothy on his behalf as “co-worker for God in proclaiming the gospel of Christ.” Paul was greatly encouraged by Timothy’s report. What news and encouraging reports do we share at Synods and on less formal occasions? It is good to learn of the ways that local churches are reaching out in service to their communities; it is good to recognise long service by dedicated servants and to welcome new arrivals, but how often do we celebrate growth in our fellowships and deepening of our faith in Christ?
For the young churches to which Paul wrote the uniqueness of the Christian Gospel set them apart from their fellow citizens in clear and sometimes dangerous ways. To what extent is this still the case for us? It is correct to recognise the right of others to follow different religions or none, but that should not mean that we accept the validity of other faiths on equal terms with Christianity.
Paul was encouraged by reports of the faith and commitment of the Thessalonian Christians: may we be able to share such reports in our Synods and all church groups.
Most gracious God, we give thanks for those who have supported and encouraged us on the Christian Way, and we give thanks for the opportunities we have to support and encourage others. Guide us and strengthen us, we pray, to share with others in action and word the Good News of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour: Amen