In the bible readings for this week, we come to 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24, a short-but-powerful passage of encouragement.
So far in our Advent journey, we have encountered the spiritual practices of waiting and hoping and repenting. To some extent this has been an exercise in becoming more and more aware of our deep need for salvation. We become more and more keen to the sin about us, the warring of nations, the hunger and disease of billions, the injustice and slavery of entire peoples, and the disaster and calamity of a broken world. Furthermore, we have noticed the sinfulness within our own hearts, our prejudice and pride, lust and discontentment, our selfishness and egocentric behavior, our neglect of our neighbor, and hatred for our enemies, and our disregard for the moral formation of our hearts. The world needs a savior: at this point in Advent we should be well aware that this much is true!
But here we take a hopeful turn! God has made a promise. We listened in week 1 of Advent to those promises. In week two we repented and prepared the way for those promises to come to fulfillment among us and within us. In week 3, not to be discouraged in a season of waiting, we get these beautiful words of comfort – “Pistos ho kalon…” – the Greek words mean “The One who calls you is faithful…”
We have not been called to sit and suffer. We have not been called to wait in vein. We have not been called to die, but to live and be made new! Paul tells the Thessalonians, and us, “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. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.” Christmas is around the corner. Salvation is at hand! “In the land of darkness a great light has shown…” Ready your hearts!