Daily Devotion 25 January 2021

Create a peaceful space to pause, and allow yourself to feel God’s presence alongside you, as near to you as your own breath. In following the reflection below, as a church we will draw closer to God and to one another as we grow in faith and deepen our sense of belonging to God.

1 Thessalonians 1: 2-3 and 5: 23-26 ‘Paul’s Great Encouragement’

2 We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly 3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

23 May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one calling you is faithful, and he will do this. 25 Beloved, pray for us. 26 Greet all the brothers and sisters with a holy kiss.

During the summer and before Christmas the folk of Wintershall in Surrey usually act the story of the life of Christ in the open air, in the nearby fields. The public are able to move with the different acts from venue to venue – in other words to be part of the event. We went with a group twice some years ago. The evening production was the Nativity and it was dry but very cold and we ended up with the final act singing carols in the barn, which was beautiful. Those taking part were in bare feet! When we went to the summer event which told the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, I remember most vividly the feeding of the 5000 – it was most moving. We, the audience, until then had been watching the action on the opposite side of the lake. Jesus blessed the food which was then distributed to us sitting on a hill for the picnic. The bread just kept on being passed through the crowd, some had less and some more, but we all had plenty. It was remarkable how well and realistic the organisation was at Wintershall, and stayed with me long after. How natural and relaxed Jesus must have felt. It’ll be good when Wintershall can resume these!

Similarly, Paul could relax and be relieved and happy with the news he received from Timothy about the church at Thessalonica. He established it after he left Philippi but was forced to leave because of opposition from Jewish leaders who were jealous of him. With the possible exception of his letter to the Galatians, his two letters to Thessalonica are his earliest surviving writing, probably written only twenty years after Christ.

Paul gives thanks for the news about the faith and love of the Christian community, and said he dearly wished to visit them again. For reasons we are not told he was unable to, and had to rely on his friend Timothy’s accounts, whose name incidentally, means ‘Honouring God’. Paul reminds them of the life he lived with them before he left. Paul’s letter is full of encouragement to the church. He reminds them and us about being alert and ready for the return of Christ. Given all we are experiencing today, this letter of encouragement is one which is for us particularly today.

Prayer:

When you wake up, say: Jesus I love you…
When leaving the house, say: Jesus come with me…
When you feel like crying, say: Jesus hug me…
When you feel happy, say: Jesus I adore you…
When you do something, say: Jesus help me…
When you make a mistake, say: Jesus forgive me…
When you go to sleep, say: thank you Jesus and cover me with your holy mantle. Amen.

Reflection © 2021 Matthew Earl.
Prayer – author unknown.
Image available at https://www.wintershall.org.uk/.

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All material within this order of worship is reproduced by permission under CCL 1226356