Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1:6-8, 19-28
Many scholars believe that Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians was among the earliest preserved writings of the new Christian community. The community of believers in Thessalonica was a small, vulnerable collection of Gentiles and Jews in the midst of a port city bustling with rival religions and philosophies. Paul expresses his pleasure in their faithfulness and tries to allay their anxiety about what they are waiting for by focusing attention on how they are waiting.
They – and we – are offered a “to do” list that’s short on words but deep in commitment: pray without ceasing. Rejoice and give thanks constantly. Stay open to hearing the Spirit. Keep thinking critically. Stay strong and faithful to what we know to be good. Paul invites us to be alert and engaged, while offering us few sureties of what we’ll encounter ahead.
Even as we wait for the kingdom, we must live out the kingdom in our daily lives. Advent waiting isn’t passive or dull. We’re called to sharpen our senses and our skills, because the Lord is counting on our participation in what’s to unfold. Christ can come into the world in any time and in any space that we make for him. Braiding prayer, work, and love, we can be faithful to the God who is so endlessly faithful to us.
Carol James has been part of the cathedral community for over a decade. She has served as a co-mentor in the Education for Ministry program. She currently leads the evening prayer providers in the Jail Ministry and is a cathedral staff member.