“Encourage one another.”
Candle Lighter: “For you are all…”
Response: “…children of the light.”
Scripture: I Thessalonians 5:1-11
5 Now concerning how and when all this will happen, dear brothers and sisters,we don’t really need to write you. 2 For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. 3 When people are saying, “Everything is peaceful and secure,” then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin. And there will be no escape.
4 But you aren’t in the dark about these things, dear brothers and sisters, and you won’t be surprised when the day of the Lord comes like a thief. 5 For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night. 6 So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clear headed. 7 Night is the time when people sleep and drinkers get drunk. 8 But let us who live in the light be clear headed, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation.
9 For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. 10 Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever. 11 So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.
Reader: The word of the Lord.
Response: Thanks be to God.
In staying with the advent theme of the Lord’s return and judgment at the end of earthly time, Paul continues with this subject in this last chapter of I Thessalonians. You might be thinking, Paul and the Thessalonians thought the Lord’s return was imminent and so it was on the front of their minds. But, that was a long time ago (in our minds), and so this idea of the Lord’s return seems more like a piece of ancient history. After all, there is so much going on now and people scarcely give the Second Coming a thought, although there are recent movies that touch on this “end of the world” theme. Paul’s advice is to not be fanatical in expectation, (the Harold Camping’s of the world who predict the End to the day!), but also to not be cold, indifferent, or cynical about the Day. Some of the Thessalonians thought that since the Lord’s return was so near, they no longer even needed to go to work! Paul challenges them and us to live a balanced, calm, and watchful life. The Lord will return unexpectedly and without warning, a truth still in effect. For unbelievers, the Day of the Lord will be catastrophic. People will have a sense of peace and safety as in the days of Noah. Then came the Flood! Paul’s mentioning of night and darkness in the passage refer to willful ignorance and immorality. There is also a final word in this short section as to how believers are to live while awaiting Christ’s Return. Notice there is nothing passive here. We move forward in faith and love being confident of our salvation as we are filled with a certain hope. We need never fear the end for we have been redeemed by the blood of this glorious Baby born in a manger in Bethlehem. Knowing what’s eventually coming, your death or the Lord’s return, live this day wisely and with joy. We know how the story ends! Share it.
Music: Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending
Almighty God, in the wilderness of Jordan you sent a messenger to prepare men’s hearts for the coming of your Son. Help us to hear the good news, to repent and be ready to welcome the Lord our Savior, Jesus Christ. O Christ our God, who wilt come to judge the world in the manhood which thou didst assume, we pray thee to sanctify us wholly, that in the day of thy coming we may be raised up to live and reign with thee for ever. Almighty Father, whose blessed Son at his first coming brough redemption to his people, and peace to men of good will, grant that, when he comes again in glory to judge the world and to make all things new, we may be found ready to receive him, and enter into his joy, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
—Prayers for Sunday Services, p.70, Scottish
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