The Epistle: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 (Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost)
Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When they say, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; for those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.
Preparing for the Day of the Lord
Let us Pray: Gracious God, forgive us when we only turn to you when things trouble us and when we forget to thank you for your blessings and bounty. Help us to recognize all the wonderful things in your world for which we should be grateful and send us out into the coming week ready to show our gratitude in all that we do and say. This we pray in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. AMEM.
As the end of the church year is rapidly coming to an end, we will start the Advent Season in two weeks: so it is time to prepare for the day of the Lord’s coming. How do we prepare for the Lord’s coming? We wait. We need to get ready as we await the return of Jesus. By actively waiting we tell others that we believe Jesus is coming and we won’t be surprised when he returns because we are watching. We watch.Things can happen very suddenly, so if you are watching you will be ready. As you are not children of the dark, you are children of light and of the day. You will not be asleep when the Day of the Lord arrives. When we are asleep, we are pretty much out of touch with the world around us, except for our dreams. So we must stay awake and watch. As we are awake, we just don’t wait but we must work. And we work. We show love, faith, and the hope of salvation for those who need to know about Jesus Christ. Jesus told many parables that highlighted the rewards one would get when we served Him. He wants to call us a “good and faithful servant.” That can only happen if we are working by serving. Faith is that certain knowledge of God, his promises and salvation; love is a yielding to God in joyful obedience; and hope, which looks to the future, is an assurance of salvation which goes hand in hand with obedience. While we are waiting, watching, and working, we are also witnessing. Believers should encourage and build up one another in the faith. The resurrection for believers offers hope and meaning for living. We spend a lot of time to let people know about Jesus Christ and their need for Him. While we are waiting, watching, working, witnessing, we also need to be worshipping. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11) Worship, should encourage each Christian and build them up. Worship is when we focus on God. He strengthens us and then we can go back out to the world. Worship is a refreshing act. As we are waiting, watching, working, and witnessing, we are worshipping together to help each other.
This week’s Gospel of Matthew flows from Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians. We see that the three slaves the master entrusted his property to had to learn and wait and be ready for the owner to return. Two worked and increased what was given to them. We must work by expressing love, faith, and the hope of salvation for those who need to know about Jesus Christ. God has given each person a wide variety of gifts, and he expects us to employ those gifts in his service. It is not acceptable merely to put those gifts on a closet shelf and ignore them. Like the three servants, we do not have gifts of the same degree. God expects of to use the gifts we have been given. The servant who received one talent was not condemned for failing to grow his share; he was condemned because he did nothing with what he was given. The gifts we receive from God include skills, abilities, family connections, social positions, education, experiences, and more. The point of the parable is that we are to use whatever we have been given for God’s purposes. The two rewarded the master by increasing what was given as we can increase what has been given to us by working to grow the faith of others.
As we move into the Season of Advent let us prepare for His coming on Christmas and be prepared to celebrate the birth of Christ, and let’s also prepare for the return of Christ by being ready with our lamps lighted to show the way.