(The scripture for today is 1 Thessalonians 1:1-11)
2We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantlyÂ 3remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
It’s possible we may finally understand what it means to be steadfast in hope.
This has been a year when satisfying outcomes have not been quick or easy for months and months now. Almost every phone call I make is to someone who, from the other end of the phone line, longs for things to be the way they once were or for things to be better than they are now.
94 year-old Kathryn, who I call about once a week, after lamenting about what she misses, always reminds me, “We’ll all be together again soon.”
We have become so used to being able to direct the outcomes and get fast results, whether we are clicking on a link to a website or waiting in line for our coffee order. We have made so many avenues to have it our way right away that we hardly have to hope anymore. If we don’t like the way things are going, we just get it done somewhere else.
And we’ve done that with church, too. We have made church something we consume, something we demand feeds us and meets our needs the way we want them to be met. If we don’t like what’s happening at our church, we can go somewhere else.* I have many pastor friends who, especially in this past year, have been bossed and bullied and threatened with tithe dollars withheld if someone doesn’t get his or her way. Thanks be to God, that hasn’t happened at Peace. Folks may not always like what’s decided, but they have been encouraging and understanding all the way.
In this year so much has been beyond our control. Even when we try to make things the way we want them–to get back to normal–we cannot affect the outcomes. Singlehandedly, we cannot tame the virus. We cannot boss it around or tell it to leave us alone because we are going to church or to be with family. There are no easy choices and no easy paths to walk here. We have to do hard things and be steadfast in hope.
And we do have hope that it will not always be like this.
Because it will not always be like this, I’m certain. Kathryn reminds you, “We’ll all be together again soon.”
May you remain steadfast in hope until that time comes.
*Obviously, children of God, this is not always a bad thing. Sometimes it’s time to leave a church, or a church turns out not to be a good fit. When that is the case, please go in peace. But also be willing to ask the question: “Am I leaving because I’m not getting my way or because it’s truly time to leave?”