Read 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10.
Paul makes this church in Thessalonica sound flawless. I say bologna. I’m not calling Paul a liar, I just think that he’s writing with a healthier view of these good people, since he’s composing this letter after some time away from them and from many miles away. Paul is now seeing the bigger picture, now able to notice what God’s Spirit was up to all along. Sometimes we imagine people and places more graciously when we think about them in the rearview mirror. I mean, have you ever found that perfect faith community? You know, that group of beautiful souls that never feud, never disagree, and are perfectly in sync with the leading of the Spirit? (Yeah…me neither.) Some of the faith communities in which I’ve been active, though, are kind of perfect in their totally imperfect, messy way. In the rearview mirror we realize that in a community’s imperfection there’s beauty and faithfulness and forgiveness and growing pains and redemption. There’s no perfect person nor perfect church, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be grateful for the other oddballs in the pews. This Advent, as you attend holiday parties and church services and eat meals with people who annoy you before the entree is even served, take a second to pause, say a prayer of thanksgiving for the community around you, and in the group’s quirks and dysfunction, smile, trusting that this has been, is, and forever will be a reality for every church. But God’s Spirit is knitting us together and loving us and calling us into one Body anyway.
Pray: Holy God, remind us that no person and no community is perfect (and that includes us!), but that doesn’t mean that you’re not up to something in our midst. Thank you. Amen.
Patrick Harley, UKirk Birmingham