Thursday 22nd October 2020 – 2 Thessalonians – Persevere
2 Thessalonians 2: 13 – 17
But we must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.
There will be some reading this reflection who need to hear the words ‘keep going!’
Given the experience of these early Christians, it is no surprise that Paul’s letters are full of concern and encouragement. He urges them to ‘keep going’, even in the face of increasing external hostility and internal divisions. He encourages them to come back to the truth; to the gospel and to embrace the future of God’s Kingdom.
As I think about it, perhaps it isn’t just some of us who need to hear this. As individuals and churches, we face similar issues as those fledgling communities.
The world around us can seem challenging and confusing. ‘My truth’ can be found in every tweet and post, fear of global issues like climate change and racial injustice can make us want to pull up the drawbridge, and for many, the Kingdom to come can seem too far off.
The church is facing unprecedented pressures as it seeks to follow the way of Jesus in this world, with all the structures and traditions of another age. Some of these are still of value and give us safe ground to build on, whilst others hold us back and limit our ability to be fleet-of-foot.
These, alongside the personal struggles and joys that we bring with us as we read Paul’s letter, can mean that we need his words afresh. ‘Keep going!’
Keep encouraging one another. Keep close to the Good News. Keep hoping for God’s Kingdom and living as if it is now. Keep going!
And an important aside.Have concern for those that can’t; those who have run out of patience trying, who are hurt and bruised by the side of life’s road, those that have hurdles and barriers to climb that others do not.
Keep going. And as you do, speak, act and care for those that can’t.
Abundant God, we give thanks for those who encourage us and give us hope and we rejoice that there is strength in you that revives us.
May your Good news continue to give us confidence in the world you desire for us and that you are creating it, in and through us, by your Spirit.
Gentle God, give us compassion for those whose purpose and endurance has been tested to the limit; for those who feel they cannot keep going.
May we be your hands and feet this day. Amen
The Rev’d Martin Knight is minister of St Paul’s URC, South Croydon and South Croydon United Church (Methodist/URC)