Thursday – November 20, 2014; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-18
12 But we appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to respect those who labor among you, and have charge of you in the Lord and admonish you; 13 esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them. 15 See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
In our reading today, we find Paul reminding the members of the church at Thessalonica to care for each other, respect each other, love each other, teach each other and guide each other throughout their lives…to help each other to stay on track, and to help and support to each other as they carry out their mission of making Christ known in the world.
Paul was aware that the members of the Thessalonian church knew how follow Christ, and that they did not need to be told how important it was to treat each other as fellow members of the family of God; however, he also knew how hard it could be to truly follow Christ in a world that presents us with so many challenges to our faith. This is why Paul gave the church members this message of hope and strength in the face of those who wanted to see them fail in their mission, calling upon the church members to reach out to each other with love and support, in order to strengthen them for their ministry in a hostile world.
The message of hope and support that Paul gives to the Thessalonians in today’s reading can also apply to us as single parents!
We too have been asked to follow a difficult call in our lives, as we have taken on the responsibilities of being a parent (single or otherwise), the task of raising children with love: teaching them how to respect others, care for each other and the world, and how to find a faith that works for them, and helps them to make that faith known in all that they do.
We are also called to help our children learn the many practical aspects of life: the importance of an education (both practical and academic), how to take good care of themselves and their living spaces (i.e. hygiene and keeping their rooms cleaned), as well as how to drive a car, do laundry, groceries, and how to make the best choices for themselves in a world filled with temptations (like well-meaning friends who help them to drift off-track in their lives).
No one can deny that raising a child takes a lot of work, causes us a lot of frustration, stress and fear…fear that can make us forget the many good things that come from raising our children: as our fears can be so loud that they can overwhelm the great joys of having children. Therefore, as followers of Christ we are also called to offer support and care to others who are struggling with parenting and life issues…as we know that they are both the same thing…because being a parent is not what we do, but who we are!
Of course there is more to our lives than being parents, and while raising our kids we still struggle with our own self-esteem issues, loss of confidence in ourselves, as well as having to face financial troubles, dealing with illness, grief, disappointment with relationships or work, or who are simply feeling lost and confused (as we all do at times).
Having been through many of these same struggles, we can share our experience strength and hope with each other, as we grow stronger in the faith we share…the faith in God’s grace and mercy…the faith in God’s presence and power with us, right here in the midst of our lives!! Found whenever we gather together in prayer, praise and support.
Hilary Clinton once said that it takes a village to raise a child…although this has inspired some jokes, she has a point…and it is good that we do not raise our children alone, but within a community of family, of love and of faith! Which sounds a lot like the church that Paul was ministering to, for a church can be like a family or a village: containing people who have different ideas, do not always get along, but will still come together to offer each other support and care as we make our way through life as we raise our children, and continue to grow up ourselves.
Let us Pray:
Lord, help us to follow the call of Christ, and the appeal of Paul, to care for each other, respect for each other, have compassion for each other and guide each other as we face the difficult challenges or raising our children as single parents. Let us remember that we raise our children as part of a community and part of your family; as we are all your children! Thank you for never leaving us alone, and for giving us the support of others and the guidance found in the scriptures, to lead us as we take up our call to be the best parents and people we can be…as we lead our children into their own future: adulthood.