Occasionally, we will reprint prior devotions that now reflect on the coming lectionary texts. This is a reprint from a devotion originally published on October 15, 2014.
Prayer: Help us to receive your joy, God, and spread it to others. Amen.
Reading: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 (Click to read text)
Stop and GROW: After reading the text, discuss/ponder the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Book of Faith questions, which are part of Camp Mount Luther's GROW Time with campers.
QUESTION 1: What scares, confuses, challenges, or doesn’t make sense to me in this text?
QUESTION 2: What delights me in this text or is my favorite part of the story?
QUESTION 3: What stories or memories does this text stir in me?
QUESTION 4: What is God up to in this text?
Reflection: The Thessalonian Church was born in violence. For extra credit today, read Acts 17:1-9. There was a mixed reaction to St. Paul and Silas’ initial preaching and teaching in Thessalonica. Some believed in Jesus and joined with Paul and Silas while others were offended and “jealous.” They “formed a mob and set the city in an uproar.” The Thessalonian Christians were probably surprised, frightened, upset and defensive. They certainly didn’t want their city in an uproar. And more than likely they blamed others for the disturbance. And, in turn, they were persecuted. Not a good environment for starting a church and proclaiming the gospel. Sounds more like an invitation to enmity, turmoil and ongoing finger pointing.
But in today’s reading we hear that the Thessalonian Christians “received the word with joy… (and) became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.” They became known throughout the region for their “faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” I think that is exciting. They learned what Christianity is all about. The way of the Lord became a part of their being. They lived it out. So much so that they became well-known for faith, love, and steadfastness. What a difference their attitude and actions made in that part of Greece in their day.
So, what are Christians in this part of the world known for in our day? And what difference does it make? What are you and I known for? What kind of difference do we make? --Jim Bricker
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