Our Very Lives

I believe in going to visit people. In their homes. Where they are. Perhaps that’s why I’ve been traveling so much lately. The people I love are spread out, and Central Illinois is not central for everyone. So this verse caught my attention today:

As you yourselves know, brothers and sisters, our visit with you wasn’t a waste of time. 1 Thess. 2:1 (CEB)

Of course not! It is hard to imagine Paul wasting time. Squandering a visit. But Paul was not all business. The relationship he describes with the Thessalonians is tender, loving. Not as an official apostle writing Scripture to shape Christianity for hundreds of years into the future.

Instead, we were gentle with you like a nursing mother caring for her own children. 1 Thess 2:7 (CEB)

And I notice the plural. We. And you. As a group, a church. We are family- Paul, Silvanus, Timothy, and the Thessalonians. Even though we are separated now, the memories of the visit linger. We want to encourage you with letters, and let you know we are praying for you. With thankfulness. 

Relationships matter. I took a break from small group years ago. The format no longer fit my life. For a while I hosted dinners instead. Low-key, no agenda. We drank wine, lit candles, and stayed up late. Then I stopped cooking and hosting altogether. I didn’t feel the energy or excitement. 

But I have been wondering for a while now- what will replace small groups? It seems like we need something more than Sunday mornings. Wednesday night Bible Study used to be a thing. Then there were small groups. Now there are…book groups? Dinner groups? Spanish conversation groups? Musicians jam groups?

Our lives are busy. How can we add one more thing? It would have to be something we look forward to. Anticipate, not dread. Something we are glad to do, because we care for each other. Where we will be encouraged and strengthened in our faith and our everyday living.

We were glad to share not only God’s good news with you but also our very lives because we cared for you so much. 1 Thess. 2:8 (CEB)

I was surprised to find myself ready to host again. Imagining welcoming people into our home for a book group seemed fun(!)  Probably because I think it is good news. Rob Bell’s take on the Bible feels fresh, inviting us to see Scripture in a new light. 

But also because I am feeling more able to share my life again. I’m not up to Paul’s standard of care and work. Few of us are. But we each have something we can share. And perhaps when we do, as we open our lives to each other, our care for each other deepens. So that we are more than just members of the same church or faith tradition. We are family. And we are not alone. 

What gathering might you look forward to? To read, converse, write or play music. How might you be willing to share some of your life? To find your care deepening. And perhaps discover family. That you are not alone on this journey.

May God prompt our hearts and open our eyes to opportunities to share life together.

Bulletin: 8/25
Order of Service: 8/25
Sermon: God Speaks (Intro to Hebrews)
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