A Reading from 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28
12 But we appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to respect those who labor among you, and have charge of you in the Lord and admonish you; 13esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the faint hearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them. 15See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all.
16 Rejoice always, 17pray without ceasing, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19Do not quench the Spirit. 20Do not despise the words of prophets, 21but test everything; hold fast to what is good; 22abstain from every form of evil.
23 May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this. 25Beloved, pray for us. 26Greet all the brothers and sisters with a holy kiss. 27I solemnly command you by the Lord that this letter be read to all of them. 28The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Today’s epistle reading reminds me of a list of “dealing with stress in a pandemic” items I recently encountered. Among them were: get dressed, establish a routine, be social (digitally), set some new goals (“quarantine resolutions”), go for a walk, listen to music, limit worry (by giving fifteen minutes only per day to write about apprehensions), remain hopeful, pray the Serenity Prayer.
In a similar fashion, Paul provides Christians in his first letter to the Thessalonians some suggestions for actions while “waiting for the Day of the Lord.” Among them are: be at peace, be patient with all, do good to one another, rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, hold fast to what is good, abstain from every form of evil.
In my opinion, both lists provide wisdom for living during this season of Advent in the Year of Our Lord 2020. Maranatha. Come, Lord Jesus!
Michael G. Smith served as bishop of North Dakota for fifteen years and is currently the Assistant Bishop of Dallas.