Archive for the ‘1 Thessalonians 3’ Tag

Devotion for the Twenty-Seventh Sunday After Pentecost, Year A (ILCW Lectionary)   3 comments

Above:  Icon of the Last Judgment

Image in the Public Domain

Secret Disciples of Jesus

NOVEMBER 19, 2023


According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)


Jeremiah 26:1-6 (LBWLW) or Jeremiah 25:30-32 (LW)

Psalm 105:1-7

1 Thessalonians 3:7-13 (LBW, LW) or 1 Thessalonians 1:3-10 (LW)

Matthew 24:1-14 (LBWLW) or Mathew 25:31-46 (LW)


Almighty and ever-living God,

before the earth was formed and even after it ceases to be,

you are God. 

Break into our short span of life

and let us see the signs of your final will and purpose;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 30


Almighty and ever-living God,

since you have given exceedingly great and precious promises

to those who believe,

grant us so perfectly and without all doubt

to believe in your Son Jesus Christ

that our faith in your sight may never be reproved;

through our Savior, Jesus Christ,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

–Lutheran Worship (1982), 92


Divine judgment and mercy come mixed in the assigned readings.  Contexts vary.  They include the Day of the LORD, the Exodus, the latter years of the Kingdom of Judah, the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E., and the Second Coming of Jesus.  God is faithful and universal, we read.  And many people who have a relationship with God may be unaware of that relationship.  The flip side is that many people who think they have a relationship with God do not.

In the parable from Matthew 25, those astonished righteous learned that, by helping the vulnerable with whom Jesus identified, they had a relationship with Jesus.  Those astonished righteous learned that they had performed good works for Jesus and had been faithful to him.

A parable, by definition, contains layers of meanings.  Let us not ignore this layer of meaning, O reader.  The parable in Matthew 25:31-46 speaks of service.  The parable ought not to lead to Pietism–downplaying doctrine and falling into works-based righteousness.  No, the parable should tell us something about divine judgment and mercy; we mere mortals do not understand them.  Divine judgment and mercy exist in balance; we cannot grasp what that balance is.

Reread Matthew 25:31-46, O reader.  Notice the astonishment of those who thought they were righteous and the astonishment of those who learned they were righteous.  Then look around and ponder.  The parable counsels against spiritual complacency.  Love is active.  Jesus has many disciples, a host of whom do not know they are his disciples, based on the parable’s standard.  Celebrate grace and Christian service, O reader.  Live grace-fully.





Link to the corresponding post at BLOGA THEOLOGICA


Devotion for the Twenty-Sixth Sunday After Pentecost, Year A (ILCW Lectionary)   1 comment

Above:  Madonna and Child, by Filippo Lippi

Image in the Public Domain

Like a Child in Its Mother’s Arms

NOVEMBER 12, 2023


According to the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) Lectionary (1973), as contained in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Lutheran Worship (1982)


Malachi 2:1-2, 4-10 (LBW, LW) or Job 14:1-6 (LW)

Psalm 131 (LBW) or Psalm 90:1-12 (LW)

1 Thessalonians 3:11-13 (LW) or 1 Thessalonians 2:8-13 (LBW, LW)

Matthew 23:1-12 (LBWLW) or Mathew 24:15-28 (LW)


Lord God, so rule and govern our hearts and minds

by your Holy Spirit that,

always keeping in mind the end of all things and the day of judgment,

we may be stirred up to holiness here

and may live with you forever in the world to come,

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 29


O Lord, absolve your people from their offenses

that from the bonds of sins,

which by reason of our weakness we have brought upon us,

we may be delivered by your bountiful goodness;

through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lutheran Worship (1982), 91


Malachi 2:3 is not an assigned verse.  I suppose that hearing it read aloud in church would raise some awkward issues and prompt gasps of shock.  Set in the context of priests offering sacrifices wrongly after the end of the Babylonian Exile, Malachi 2:3 reads:

I will put your seed under a ban, and I will strew dung upon your faces, the dung of your festal sacrifices, and you shall be carried out to its [heap].

TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures 

God seems to take proper worship seriously in Malachi 2.

For all the John 3:16 signs at sporting events, I cannot recall one Malachi 2:3 sign.  Perhaps a wiseacre should correct that oversight.

Eschatological overtones in the New Testament combine with musings about the human condition and about trust in God in the Hebrew Bible.  Psalm 131 speaks of individual and collective trust in God, described in maternal terms.  Matters individual and collective are inseparable, as John Donne (1572-1631) wrote:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

Therefore, in faith community, encouraging one another is part of

a life worthy of God.

–1 Thessalonians 2:12, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

Lives worthy of God, by grace, build up people.  Lives worthy of God seek and find the common good.  Lives worthy of God play out both individually and collectively.  Lives worthy of God remain deeply flawed–sinful.  That is the human condition.  Yet these lives do not wallow in that sin.  No, these lives

…keep tranquil and quiet

like a child in its mother’s arms,

as content as a child that has been weaned.

–Psalm 131:2, The Jerusalem Bible (1966).

Consider that image, O reader.  Live accordingly.





Link to the corresponding post at BLOGA THEOLOGICA


Devotion for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday After Proper 27, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment


Above:  A Candle

Image Source = Martin Geisler

A Light to the Nations

NOVEMBER 13-15, 2023


The Collect:

O God of justice and love,

you illumine our way through life with the words of your Son.

Give us the light we need, and awaken us to the needs of others,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 52


The Assigned Readings:

Amos 8:7-14 (Monday)

Joel 1:1-14 (Tuesday)

Joel 3:9-21 (Wednesday)

Psalm 63 (All Days)

1 Corinthians 14:20-25 (Monday)

1 Thessalonians 3:6-13 (Tuesday)

Matthew 24:29-35 (Wednesday)


The hit parade of judgment comes in these days’ readings.  Among the themes therein is the final judgment, which a glorious future for God’s people will follow.  First, however, one must survive the judgment, if one can.

A theme from the New Testament informs the Old Testament lessons nicely.  Faith–by which I mean active faith, in the Pauline sense of the word, not in sense of purely intellectual faith one reads about in the Letter of James–is not just for one’s benefit and that of one’s faith community.  No, faith is for the good of those whom one draws to God and otherwise encourages spiritually.  The people of God have the assignment to function as a light to the nations.  That was the mission in which many Hebrews failed in the days of the Old Testament.  They became so similar to other nations that they could not serve as a light to those nations.  The same holds true for much of Christianity, whether liberal, moderate, or conservative, for organized religion has a knack for affirming certain prejudices while confronting others.  Some denominations, especially in then U.S. South, formed in defense of race-based slavery.  Others, especially in the U.S. North, formed in opposition to that Peculiar Institution of the South.  Many nineteenth-century and twentieth-century U.S. Protestants recycled pro-slavery arguments to defend Jim Crow laws, and one can still identify bastions of unrepentant racism in churches.  Also, mysogyny and homophobia remain entrenched in much of organized Christianity.

To separate divine commandments from learned attitudes and behaviors can prove difficult.  It is, however, essential if one is to follow God faithfully and to function as a light to others.  May those others join us in praying, in the words of Psalm 63:8:

My soul clings to you;

your right hand holds me fast.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979)










Devotion for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday After Proper 6, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment


Above:  The Civil Rights March from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, 1965

Photographer = Peter Pettus

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ6-2329

Righteousness and Results

JUNE 19-21, 2023


The Collect:

God of compassion, you have opened the way for us and brought us to yourself.

Pour your love into our hearts, that, overflowing with joy,

we may freely share the blessings of your realm and faithfully proclaim

the good news of your Son, Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 39


The Assigned Readings:

Joshua 1:1-11 (Monday)

1 Samuel 3:1-9 (Tuesday)

Proverbs 4:10-27 (Wednesday)

Psalm 105:1-11, 37-45 (All Days)

1 Thessalonians 3:1-5 (Monday)

2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5 (Tuesday)

Luke 6:12-19 (Wednesday)


Seek the Lord and his strength;

seek his face continually.

–Psalm 105:4, Common Worship (2000)


The Psalm tells us to seek God and divine strength continually. That is good advice at all times and in all places. It is also advice consistent with the rest of the assigned readings.

The lections from Joshua and Proverbs are overly optimistic. They follow a certain formula: Obey God and good results will follow; one will prosper, et cetera. This is the overly optimistic viewpoint which leads to the heresy of Prosperity Theology: love God, do the right things, and get rich.

Tell that to Jesus (crucified), St. Paul the Apostle (beheaded after many years of troubles), and most of the original twelve Apostles (the majority of whom died violently). Tell that to the Thessalonian Christians. Tell that to nearly 2000 years’ worth of Christian martyrs and about 5000 years’ worth of faithful Hebrews.

When we challenge social institutions and systems which violate th law of love we confront powerful forces. In so doing we challenge people who might even cite God in attempts to justify their unjustifiable actions and attitudes. And we place ourselves at great risk. We need divine strength to live faithfully and to avoid the pitfalls of hatred, vengeance, and misdirected anger. We should be angry sometimes, for righteous anger does exist. But we ought to channel it properly, lest it corrupt our cause and compromise us.

We can succeed only by the power of God.









Week of Proper 16: Thursday, Year 1   13 comments

Above:  Second Coming Icon

Image in the Public Domain

Our mission as Christians entails being part of the solution to the world’s problems, not seeking to flee this world.

AUGUST 31, 2023


Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.


1 Thessalonians 3:6-13 (The Jerusalem Bible):

However, Timothy is back from you and he has given us good news of your faith and your love, telling us that you always remember us with pleasure and want to see us quite as much as we want to see you.  And so, brothers, your faith has been a great comfort to us in the middle of your own troubles and sorrows; now we can breathe again, as you are still holding firm in the Lord.  How can we thank God enough for you, for all the joy we feel before our God on your account?  We are earnestly praying night and day to be able to see you face to face again and make up any shortcomings in your faith.

May God our Father himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, make it easy for us to come to you.  May the Lord be generous in increasing your love and make you love one another and the whole human race as much as we love you.  And may he so conform your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless in the sight of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus Christ comes with all his saints.

Psalm 90:13-17 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

13 Return, O LORD; how long will you tarry?

be gracious to your servants.

14 Satisfy us by your loving-kindness in the morning;

so shall we rejoice and be glad all the days of our life.

15 Make us glad by the measure of the days that you afflicted us

and the years in which we suffered adversity.

16 Show your servants your works

and your splendor to their children.

17 May the graciousness of the LORD our God be upon us;

prosper the work of our hands;

prosper our handiwork.

Matthew 24:42-51 (The Jerusalem Bible):

Jesus said,

So stay awake, because you do not know the day when your master is coming.  You may be quite sure of this that if the householder had known at what time of the night the burglar would come, he would have stayed awake and would not have allowed anyone to break through the wall of his house.  Therefore, you too must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

What kind of servant, then, is faithful and wise enough for the master to place him over his household to give him their food at the proper time?  Happy that servant if his master’s arrival finds him at this employment.  I tell you solemnly, he will place him over everything he owns. But as for the dishonest servant who says to himself, “My master is taking his time,” and sets about beating his fellow servants and drinking with drunkards, his master will come on a day he does not expect and at an hour he does not know.  The master will cut him off and send him to the same fate as hypocrites, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.


The Collect:

Grant, O merciful God, that your Church, being gathered together in unity by your Holy Spirit, may show forth your power among all peoples, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Some glad morning when this life is o’er,

I’ll fly away;

To a home on God’s celestial shore,

I’ll fly away.

I’ll fly away, O glory,

I’ll fly away in the morning;

When I die, hallelujah, by and by.

When the shadows of this life have grown,

I’ll fly away;

Like a bird from prison bars has flown,

I’ll fly away.

I’ll fly away, O glory….

Just a few more weary days and then,

I’ll fly away;

To a land where joys shall never end,

I’ll fly away.

I’ll fly away, O glory….

–Albert E. Brumley, 1932

Bishop Henry Irving Louttit, Jr., leader of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia from 1995 to 2010, is a man I respect greatly.  He has diagnosed correctly the problem with the rather annoying gospel song I have quoted above:  It is escapist.

The Incarnation is about, among other things, God coming into world to transform and redeem it.  So let us not give up on it.  Giving up on the world, with its plethora of severe problems, lies at the heart of much apocalyptic thought.  The logic runs something like this:  Since the world has gone to Hell in a handbasket, the best we Christians can do is hang on until Jesus returns.  But how much better, I ask, might the world be if we were more active in the world, if we focused less on prophecy seminars and conferences, and if we got busy doing our best to be salt and light?  We ought not strive to get the hell out of Dodge.  No, we need to make Dodge a better town.

Apocalyptic thought is almost as old as Christianity.  The Apostle Paul expected Jesus to return within his lifetime.  And many members of the church at Thessalonica had the same idea.  Since then some people have set dates, only to meet with disappointment.  William Miller, founder of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, did this more than once.  One Colin Hoyle Deal published a book entitled Christ Returns by 1988:  101 Reasons Why in 1979.  And, as I write these words, another deadline, May 21, 2011, is in my near future.  I expect many people to be disappointed on May 22, 2011.  I expect nothing, so I will not be disappointed.

May we focus on being salt and light, to the best of our ability, by the help of God.  Then, regardless of whatever God’s plans are on any given day, God will not catch us unawares.

Where shall we start?  I propose that we start by loving ourselves and one another in God, in whom we have identity.  Paul’s affection for the Thessalonian Christians is obvious in the reading from the epistle.  But it is also evident in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-3:5, over which the Canadian Lectionary skips.  Consider these words:

What do you think is our pride and our joy?  You are…. (2:19a)

For all the references to slanders some in the Thessalonian church had made against Paul, the Apostle was genuinely fond of the congregation.

United by mutual love and affection in God, may we Christians be salt and light in the world, which is our neighborhood, not the enemy camp.  We are responsible for our neighborhoods.  And if we are not part of the solution, we are part of the problem.  Empowered by God, we can succeed in our mission.