Second Thessalonians 1 is prayer. There are three parts to the prayer—an introduction (vv. 1-2), thanksgiving (vv. 3-10), and intercession (vv. 11-12). Verses three and four introduce thanksgiving for each person in the community and acknowledge God’s hand in increasing their love for one another. In other words, the author gives God thanks for the humanity that he sees in each person and then acknowledges the power and potential of love. The Pauline writer is not consumed in this moment with the flaws and imperfections of the church; he is not caught up in the institution of the church. He simply is in awe of the way that God has brought people together and allowed love to abound.

In this “age of the nones” when so many people have walked away from the church and when the church has walked away from so many people, we forget that the church is people and love. Church is not about power; it is not about doctrine. The church is the calling and coming together of brothers and sisters to exude love upon one another, not as a sign of who we are but instead as a reflection of who God is.

When God calls us into these spaces, it is not about our reputation. The intercession in verses 11 and 12 reminds us of that sober reality. All the good things that we can do as the church—the gathering of believers—is an effort to be worthy of the call that God has laid before us. Today’s reading reminds us that the work is not easy, and that even when we resolve to do the work we are often distracted from glorification of God. This work is so difficult that the author knows that he must intercede on the church’s behalf.

God, we give thanks that you have called us together in community. May we always acknowledge in our hearts that you are the center of our calling and our work. Remind us every day to see you in your people so that we may love them with our whole hearts. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Luke 19:1-10

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Lectionary Week
October 28—November 3, 2019
Scripture Overview

This week includes All Saints Day, when we remember those who have come before and handed down the faith to us, especially through trials. Habakkuk reminds us that our predecessors sometimes suffered discouragement, but the righteous have always lived by faith. The psalmist also has experienced hard times, but he knows that God’s commandments are true and lead to life. The Thessalonians have experienced persecution as well; yet through their strength their faith and love continue to grow to the glory of Christ. May the same be said of us and our church communities! The famous story of Zacchaeus illustrates that the crowd of faithful witnesses that we celebrate on All Saints Day includes those who have been lost—outsiders—for Jesus comes to seek and save the lost.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4. How can you wait actively for God’s response to your prayers and complaints? How will you enact God’s response when it comes?
Read Psalm 119:137-144. How do you persist in following God’s commandments in the face of injustice and corruption?
Read 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12. The work of the church has never been easy. How does your faith community work to exude God’s love in a time when many reject or feel rejected by church institutions?
Read Luke 19:1-10. When have you run to Jesus? How can you share your experience so others pursue Jesus as well?

Respond by posting a prayer.

I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

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