from the October 18th sermon:
“We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers,” wrote Paul and his friends in their letter to the Thessalonians. (First letter, chapter one.)
Why? What was so special about this community in ancient Greece all those centuries ago?
Father David took from this text an enduring example of 1) embracing and responding to God’s initiative in their lives; 2) welcoming leaders who monitored their exemplary lives; and 3) becoming a distinctive community with a new orientation to life. We, today, know that early Christians lived under great pressure and persecution. Their ancient neighbors saw that first hand — and something else that was amazing.
They witnessed a community that was so convicted by a steadfast hope and so empowered by God’s word that they were changed. These Christians rejected stone idols and the other things that people held up as idols. They endured persecution. They performed acts of love. They became known throughout the ancient world as an effective, persistent, distinctive community.
• How can we, like these early leaders, step out in conviction?
• How can we, through the power of God, help others to be people of conviction?
• How are we responding to God’s initiative in our lives?
We are in stewardship season now, when we gather pledges of financial support for the ongoing work of our church. In January, we will have opportunities to answer these questions at the annual meeting. Please, reflect on them. Use your imagination!
May we, like exemplary communities of faith throughout history, respond as people of conviction.