13 But we always must thank God for you, brothers and sisters who are loved by God. This is because he chose you from the beginning to be the first crop of the harvest. This brought salvation, through your dedication to God by the Spirit and through your belief in the truth. 14 God called all of you through our good news so you could possess the honor of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold on to the traditions we taught you, whether we taught you in person or through our letter. 16 Our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and a good hope.17 May he encourage your hearts and give you strength in every good thing you do or say.
3 Finally, brothers and sisters, pray for us so that the Lord’s message will spread quickly and be honored, just like it happened with you. 2 Pray too that we will be rescued from inappropriate and evil people since everyone that we meet won’t respond with faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful and will give you strength and protect you from the evil one. 4 We are confident about you in the Lord—that you are doing and will keep doing what we tell you to do. 5 May the Lord lead your hearts to express God’s love and Christ’s endurance.
2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5 (CEB)
(For use with the MORNING Daily Prayer)
Some years the cards piled up in a basket. Whether they were whimsical nods at the current pop culture or religiously over toned, Christmas cards and letters signaled the arrival of the season. They announced a connection from across town and from far away. Friends and family shared their story with our family, and we joined together to celebrate good news.
The letter to the church in II Thessalonians was probably never intended to be viewed as a Christmas card, but yet it has a similar tone. While scholars might debate about the author, the readers, the church, seemed to recognize the voice. The letter was from a friend. Someone they knew, someone they loved, had met them in the midst of their fear and frustration and failure, to offer comfort and good news. A friend retold a friend the story of what God was doing in the midst of their lives. Good news was proclaimed. While this church was weary awaiting the second arrival of Christ, they were reminded of the gifts that had already been given. They were reminded that while they waited, they were loved. This letter announced a connection as well, reminding the church that in spite of any current situations that threatened to unravel their faith, that they were held and bound in a love greater than themselves.
The cards may not pile up as high this year. Some friends may choose to tweet and post versus hunt for an age old stamp. However they come to us or however we send ours out, stories shared this advent and Christmas gives us the opportunity to tell our good news to one another. Whether you find yourself writing one last paper, or preaching one more advent text, whether you tell your family or tell a friend, announce the good news that we are held together and bound in a love greater than ourselves. Whether you are grading the semester’s work, setting the policy or writing the check and sending the tuition support, remember to be the church in the world by being the church to the one standing or sitting right next to you. Burst in on the mundane with thanksgiving and doxology to proclaim to one another the story of Christ’s love for us all. Show up in someone’s life to remind them that you love them. Your Christmas letter may be the gift they are waiting to receive. Signal the season, connect across town or from far away, because someone you know needs to hear from you and celebrate good news.
A Prayer for the Twelfth Day of Advent
Immanuel, for your letter to the church, for your Word sent into the world, we are ever grateful. For the lives of your people who have touched our own over the years, for friendships made in seminary halls and in congregations and across family tables, we give you thanks. Help us to be mindful of the words we use this season whether spoken or written. Help us Lord, to use our gifts for your glory, to bear joyful witness to one another of your love. As we wait for you, help us to love one another and in so doing to bear witness to your love for us already present in our midst. Grateful for your good gifts to us and for one another we ask your continued blessing, in Christ’s name. Amen
Associate Director of Student Services