FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C
1 THESSALONIANS 3:9-13
Rev. Betsy Scheuerman
Unitarian Universalist Church, Meadville, PA
Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
What thanks can we return to God for you? What thanks for all the joy you have brought us, making us rejoice before our God? Night and day we pray most earnestly to be allowed to see you again and to mend your faith where it falls short.
May our God and Parent, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you. And may the Lord make your love mount and overflow towards one another and towards all, as our love does towards you. That will make your hearts steadfast, so you may stand before our God and Parent holy and faultless when our Lord Jesus comes with all his saints.
May the Lord make your love mount and overflow towards one another and towards all, as our love does towards you.
Meditation: How to wait?
Members of the community of Thessalonians were waiting expectantly for the appearance of God’s son. Already crucified, already raised from the dead, Jesus would rescue them from the coming wrath. That was the future, anticipated imminently…but just how imminent, no one could say. Meanwhile, they lived in the present: a terrifying time during which they were witnessing or experiencing persecution, injury, shame, suffering.
Imagine the tension.
I think of times when I have waited: waiting for my daughter to be born (sixteen days! past the due date)…Waiting to discern direction in my life…
Waiting for a bout of depression to pass…Waiting for my father-in-law to die…Waiting for a phone call to confirm that I had been selected as a candidate for a ministerial position (it came, and I wasn’t)….in a hospital, waiting to hear whether someone had survived her surgery…waiting for a response to an overture, as I hoped to heal a rift in a friendship…waiting for my voice to return...waiting for my grown child to find a job.
And of course, there are the smaller, more mundane waitings: waiting for a microwave to beep, the computer to boot, a real person to answer a customer service line, the traffic jam to break up, a parking spot to open up, the plane to take off, the power to return.
So much to wait for. So much time spent in that realm of the in-between, and not-yet.
Unlike Paul and the Thessalonians, I am not waiting for the apocalypse, the Second Coming of Christ, the Rapture. I am not anticipating the possibility of martyrdom. Still, whether waiting with excitement or dread, I usually feel tense, anxious, nervous. Too often I feel frustrated, irritable and impatient—if not downright angry.
Paul refers in his letters to those emotions. Sometimes he demonstrates them, and his frustration or irritability is palpable. But the touchstone (he seems to say, over and over again) is love. He gently reminds the Thessalonians (he gently reminds me) of a love that can overwhelm with its richness, a love that can overflow. Springing up through the Ground of All Being, pouring from the Heavens, washing over us from the oceans, that love comes to us. If we open ourselves to that love, we ourselves—right now! No matter what we are waiting for!—can be fountains of love, not only for one another, but for all.
May it be so.
Prayer (drawing upon the Buddhist lovingkindness meditation)
O God of Grace, as I wait, help me to be in a state of lovingkindness.
May Your Love overfill me.
May Your Love overfill my friends.
May Your Love overfill my community.
May Your Love overfill those I dislike.
May Your Love overfill all people, all over this world.
May Love overflow from me to myself.
May Love overflow from me to my friends.
May Love overflow from me to my community.
May Love overflow from me to those I dislike.
May Love overflow from me to all people, all over the world. Amen.