For November 20, 2016. Malachi 4:1-2, Psalm 98, 2 Thess. 3:6-13, Luke 21:5-19
I messed up this morning. When I read through the scriptures that Ken will be using for preaching this Sunday, I read 1 Thessalonians instead of 2nd.
It was a good mess up for me. On a morning when I can use some encouragement, this mistake was perfect.
Like many others watching and talking about the train-wreck election in the USA, I feel terribly discouraged about people. I am disheartened about the nasty rhetoric and alarmed by the seeming mainstream validation of racism and sexism. I have trouble understanding the way that people so willingly take up baseless rumours and accusations without proof. Horrible statements are glossed over. Logic and common sense seem in short supply. While I understand and support the need for free speech and protest, I decry the destructive ways that this happens. I have trouble claiming the name "Christian" when it is used to prop up or excuse decidedly un-Christian actions and claims.
These issues aren't only coming at me from our Southern neighbours. In the past weeks, both women running for the leadership of the Consersative party withdrew their candidacy because of the excess of abusive and sexist opposition they were targeted with.
Even closer to home, someone close to me has had to respond to horrible inappropriate social media posts coming from a relative. Ironically, in trying to respond in a constructively critical way, she/he has been accused of being an attacker.
Then, finally, I still hurt over some of the things that went on/go on in the church community I love. Hurtful rumours, blame, defensiveness, gossip,...all these destructive things go on wherever there are people. Even in gatherings of good and faithful people, we are often less than charitable or just with each other.
So, I was in a place to need encouragement. In 1 Thessalonians 3, Timothy has just returned from a trip to visit the Thessalonian church. His report back to Paul is about the faith and love he has encountered in the church. I don't believe the Thessalonians were perfect, I do believe that Timothy is focusing on the positives, and that has given everyone joy and energy.
When I think of the USA, my country of Canada, my province, my community, and my church, there are definitely problems. However, instead of letting those things keep me dragged down in the mire of complaint, I can chose to look to what is good. When I do that, I find so much to be thankful for.
In fact, if I make lists of problems and blessings that I experience, my list of positives far outstrips the negative.
This is not to say I am able to ignore the negatives, or remain quiet, it means that I am encouraged to work at them from a place of strength. In 1 Thessalonians, the early church community is suffering persecution-yet they are boosted up and able to keep working because they acknowledge the faith and love that surrounds them in the larger community. As a faith community we can do the hard work together because we have so much of what is good in common.
So, today I blog about the wrong scripture, not the one you will hear on Sunday. But it's a good place to start. Let's come to our worship on Sunday thanking God for the faith and love that surrounds us, thankful for our country, our communities, our church, and strengthened to continue the good work that benefits us all.