Sunday’s Scripture ~ I Thessalonians 1:1-10
This week the Tuskawilla community begins a new sermon series entitled Upbuilding. In this series we will study texts from I Thessalonians. The Thessalonians were an exemplar community – they received God’s Word, they were convinced that true salvation is grounded in Christ, and they lived their faith outwardly. Other early Christian communities set the Christians at Thessalonica as their example. Paul did not write to the Thessalonians to respond to an erupting issue; he wrote to praise them. Paul sought to build up the Thessalonians so that their work would continue inspiring, encouraging, and upbuilding others.
Earlier this week I was in a meeting – don’t you just love meetings? And in said meeting I was asked to take the minutes – don’t you just love meeting where you take the minutes? For a good portion of the meeting it was business as usual – input on this budget item, update on this ministry action, report on this project, type type type. But then a shift. The committee began to dream about something entirely new – not new in the way that it has never been done before but new in the way that we are intentionally sculpting this new dream by bringing in the experience of others. I got caught up in the moment…I had to remind myself to keep taking notes when I really wanted to just bask in the beauty of this dream! We briefly brainstormed the best practices that certain persons, certain groups, and certain churches could bring to the table as we dream something new. No one person or group or church does everything well; we do somethings well, but not everything well. So what if we gather all of the tasks, ministries, and gifts that individually we do well and gift that wellness of best practices to a new dream?
It’s not often that I get really excited in a meeting, but all of this made me really really excited!
So before I could lose the great thoughts I returned to my typing!
Gathering these best practices is a way is a way this leadership team can upbuild a new ministry. It’s the way this leadership team and those who work with us can invest in our neighbors and invest in strengthening God’s Kingdom on earth. And why are we doing this? Not so someone will write an epistle about us. We do it because it brings God joy – and what brings God joy brings us joy.
The Thessalonians modeled faith and perseverance as best practices. This is what we read in our Scripture text this week. This is what Paul praises in his thanksgiving over them. If someone were to name your best practices that you could offer as a gift to another person or another community, what would they identify? What are those best practices that you would like to cultivate? God is already singing your thanksgiving because you are God’s chosen and beloved. In offering your best practices to use in the Kingdom God will shift from singing general thanksgivings to singing specific thanksgivings of you.
Prayer: “Come, thou almighty King, help us thy name to sing, help us to praise! Father all glorious, o’er all victorious, come and reign over us, Ancient of Days! Come, thou incarnate Word, gird on thy mighty sword, our prayer attend! Come, and thy people bless, and give thy word success; Spirit of holiness, on us descend. Come, holy Comforter, thy sacred witness bear in this glad hour. Thou who almighty art, now rule in every heart, and ne’er from us depart, Spirit of power! To thee, great One in Three, eternal praises be, hence, evermore. Thy sovereign majesty may we in glory see, and to eternity love and adore!”* Amen.
*”Come, Thou Almighty King,” The United Methodist Hymnal, 61.