The apostle Paul writes to a community of faith that suffers persecution due to their Christian beliefs and practices. Paul expresses gratitude for this community and encourages them to keep the faith. The passage concludes with a prayer for the community. It asks God to strengthen their hearts in holiness that they may be blameless before God at the coming of our Lord Jesus, a reference to the second coming of Christ.
Though young in the faith, this community is distressed and persecuted (verse 7), perhaps provoking Paul’s letter of gratitude and encouragement. While they and we acknowledge God’s steadfast love and mercy offered to all without requirement or qualification, we also acknowledge the fact that relationship with God does not exempt individuals and communities from persecution and distress.
All Christians (and non-Christians for that matter) will experience persecution and distress in various forms at some point. Some argue Christians may be more susceptible, much like Job in the Old Testament who was God’s “favorite.” However, persecution and distress is not punishment; it is simply an aspect of the times in which we live: after Creation and the Fall but before Jesus Christ’s second coming. The more hopeful news is that in the midst of persecution and distress or joy and celebration, God never leaves us and continues to offer steadfast love, mercy, strength, peace, and hope.
Reflect upon times of persecution and/or distress in your life or the life of your faith community. What was the nature of the difficulty? How did you sense God’s presence and love in the midst of those times?

In prayer, give thanks to God and ask for God’s continuing presence and love in the midst of times of persecution as well as celebration.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Luke 21:25-36

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Lectionary Week
November 26 – December 2, 2018
Scripture Overview

As we prepare our hearts for Advent, the celebration of Jesus’ first coming, we remember in Jeremiah that the birth of Jesus has a deep background, a background rooted in God’s promise to David. Psalm 25, traditionally credited to David, speaks of God’s faithfulness to those who follow the paths of the Lord. David asks God to teach him to follow God’s paths even more closely. The New Testament readings actually point us toward Jesus’ second coming. Paul encourages the Thessalonians to excel in holiness and love while they wait. In Luke, Jesus discusses the coming of the kingdom in a passage that some find confusing. We note that he focuses not on the exact time frame of the arrival of the kingdom but on our need to be alert.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Jeremiah 33:14-16. What has been your experience with a promise-making and promise-keeping God?
• Read Psalm 25:1-10. How do you perceive God’s instruction in your life?
• Read 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13. How has God’s presence buoyed you up in times of persecution or distress?
• Read Luke 21:25-36. What is your Advent posture this year? If “believing is seeing” were true in your life, what would you see?

Respond by posting a prayer.