Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Pentecost 19a - 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
There are some scriptures that reveal the heart of Paul that is often hidden behind his stoic posture. We know he is able to endure all things, that he does nothing to satisfy self and even seems celebrate the long list of abuses he has endured for the sake of the Gospel. Sharing the suffering of Christ is the calling to which he aspires and ironically a good bit of that suffering comes from the congregations he established. But he has deep affection for the people God has given him, even the Galatians and Corinthians, although he’s not so gentle with the Galatians or very tender with the Corinthians. But he still cares for them in a way that is genuine and heartfelt. This deep affection is the relationship God desires between those who belong to the body of Christ, but especially between pastor and parishioner. The gift of the church to both is in the sharing of the Gospel in all its dimensions so that when one suffers all suffer, when one rejoices all rejoice. When you stay in a place as long as I have, or like Pastor Eric before me, people become very dear to you. Of course I don’t know how it can be that I am baptizing the babies of babies I baptized! The gift of this place is in the relationship we share and the affection we have for one another. More and more I think I feel it most when missing those who have joined the great cloud of witnesses I remember their faces and hear their voices as if they were still right here with us, which of course they are. The great gift of the Gospel is that relationships begun in this life extend into the forever future because as much as we might care for one another we are even dearer to God.