“Inspire Witness: Pen Pals” by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell

November 12th,2020 Categories: Stephanie Kendell Letters, Weekly Letter

Beloved Church,

Another week come and gone. Another week for God’s love and grace to be present with and for you. I am so grateful for this community. We have a lot coming up in the life of the church so make sure you mark your calendars and make plans to attend! We have our Interfaith Bible Study, Soulfood Fellowship, Budget Hearing, Congregational Meeting, multiple gatherings for the Inspired curriculum, Thanksgiving, and Advent 1 all within the next two weeks! So many ways to connect and lean into the life of the church, I hope to see you there!

Our scripture for worship this week (Interfaith Bible Study will have a Hebrew Bible Text) comes from 1 Thessalonians. This is one of Paul’s first letters-some scholars even name this as Paul’s first letter- and what I like most about it is that it is a letter that feels personal. The letter writ large shares with the reader Paul, Timothy, and Silvanus’s personal understanding of God at work with only the last two chapters being more proscriptive in nature and dealing with doctrine. I like this because it feels a bit like a long-distance friend reaching out-a pen pal of sorts- something I think many of us have experienced in this time of digitality. And like all letters from long lost friends it contains a multitude of worldviews and experiences that we are called to critically engage. So, this week, I want you to read the letter as if you just received it from a friend you met years ago who is reaching out to share their story, their fears, and their hopes. Let’s read together from 1 Thess. 5:1-11:

But as to specific times and eras, siblings, you don’t need me to tell you anything— you know very well that the Day of God is coming like a thief in the night. Just when people are saying, “At last we have peace and security,” then destruction will fall on them with the suddenness of labor pains, and there will be no escape.

But you, siblings, are not in the dark. The Day of God will not catch you like a thief. No, you are all children of light and children of the day. We don’t belong to the darkness or the night. So, let’s not be asleep as others are—let’s be awake and sober! Those who sleep do so at night, and those who get drunk do so at night. But we belong to the day, so let us be sober. Let us put on the breastplate of faith and love, and the helmet of the hope of salvation.

God has destined us not to suffer wrath, but to receive salvation through our Savior Jesus Christ, who died for us so that, whether awake or asleep, we might live together with Christ. So, encourage each other and build each other up, just as you’re already doing.

How would you respond to your friend here? What words of comfort, vision, and healing might you want to say to them? If you had or have similar thoughts, expectations, or fears what would you want someone to say to you? The language of our time has shifted as well as our understanding of God at work- and yet this letter feels familiar and relevant.

Friends, each moment of our life is an opportunity to experience God anew. This was true for Paul and friends, and it is true for us too. Even when God feels sneaky or distant. Even when we see God clearly. God is at work and that work is best known when we do our part. And the only thing we need to do on our part is show up authentically with God by radically loving God’s people. What a gift it is to be God’s people.

Shalom Y’all,
Rev. Stephanie

A quick prayer for your week: O Lord, give me ears to hear Your message. Amen