God, you will speak peace to your people,
to your faithful, to those who turn to you in our hearts.
Surely your salvation is at hand for those who fear you.
that your glory may dwell in our land.
People in power didn't always appreciate prophets. Some prophets were not conveying God's intentions correctly.
2 Thessalonians 3:1-18
We need to think about the then-and-now setting for this passage directing them to make a not-to-do list. Then, Christians were expecting the imminent return of Christ to issue in the final days. Why work, why do anything tedious when the whole world was going to undergo great transformation soon? Why not just sit back and do nothing while waiting for Christ to come handle stuff for us? Well, Paul said, "Don't be idle and don't associate with idlers."
Our expectation of the eschaton has changed over the millenia. How does Paul's advice fit our modern lives?
One school of thought is to think about what behavior and beliefs aid the work and continuity of the congregation. What are the minimum entrance requirements? What actions would lead to a person's being ejected from church membership? What actions not taken would? Does each member have to do some of the church work? What portion of income or wealth is a person required to contribute? And so on with questions that I'm supposing that very few church congregations consider.
Paul was concerned with how the church appeared to pagans. Are we worried about a modern-day equivalent to that? Paul criticized busybodies--what should today's church do to change the behavior and attitude of our busybodies?
Warning from Carl R. Halladay in Preaching through the Christian Year C:
In the wrong hands, this text can easily become a club used to beat those who are out of work, especially the long-term unemployed. Clearly, if we are idle and remain idle, for no good reason, we come under the censure of this text. Paul's example also serves as a worthwhile corrective to the 9-to-5 ministry. As we know, genuine ministry often involves us in round-the-clock work. People in need do not punch a clock. But perhaps one of the most important dimensions of this text is its insistence that we best prepare for the end time not by being idle but by working and earning our own living.Psalm 85:1-13
I'm looking at this psalm today as a primer on a kind of prayer--a prayer when we want our lives to be different and we admit that we may have had some responsibility in their not being what we would have been, what we want them to be.
1. Remind the Lord, "You have been favorable to us." List some specifics. Of course, the Lord already is quite aware of this. The reminder is really for you.
2. State plainly what you want, "Restore us, Of God of our salvation, and put away your indignation toward us." Probably implicit is that God's indignation will no longer be needed because you intend in the future to act like a person worthy of that salvation you're asking for.
3. State just as plainly how bad things are when you are not right with God. "Will you be angry with us forever?"
4. Now, that you have listed your wants, be ready to hear what God wants, "Let me hear what the Lord will speak." But, do we want to hear what God says?
In this psalm, God's message is to live in peace with each other--not just grudgingly, but really peacefully.
5. Affirm God's gifts and your own promise to be worthy of receiving them "Righteousness will go before him, and will make a path for his steps."
Like a war club, a sword, or a sharp arrow
is one who bears false witness against a neighbor.
Like a bad tooth or a lame foot
is trust in a faithless person in time of trouble.
Prayer for Today: O Lord our God, open us to your words, aid us in discerning your true message. Amen.