Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Pastoral ministry and other types of Christian care are really peculiar. Much of our Western society has been taken over by a sort of industrialized view of labor, where the worker is measured by units of production. There are some occupations and tasks where this makes perfect sense, others where it is completely irrelevant. Our Epistle reading for this week points out a case where appropriate care and nurture anre unrelated to most measures.
Paul, Silas, and Timothy, the authors of the letter, are looking forward to seeing the Thessalonians and build them up in their faith. Why would they want to do that? After all, it isn’t easy to make a trip to Thessalonica. It will cost time and effort. Shouldn’t they just send more letters or maybe recruit someone of less importance to do it? Can’t the Thessalonians figure everything out on their own? It seems wasteful to send leaders to meet one another.
I was moved to consider this anew when I received a brief email from my missions director, asking me when I would arrive on-site for a conference. I am going to the conference to tell people things that are already easily available on my ministry’s website and social media accounts. He is going to visit with me, maybe even very briefly, but we all consider it important to do so. This is not wasted time and effort. It is just like our Epistle reading. We want to encourage one another, care for one another, take the time to celebrate together, to pray together, to walk together through difficult times.
We give thanks together and we work as faithful servants of Christ. Sometimes that work is hard to measure. I’ve been known to spend an hour on the road each way, visiting a patient who turned out to be unconscious. Arrive, find no family there, lay hands on the person, pray, and leave a note. It seems an odd use of time. But we do it anyway, seeking to build up the people in Christ, according to the biblical pattern. It’s an odd job, but the Lord knows what he is doing. Thanks be to God.
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