Lectionary Year B
October 27, 2002
1 Thessalonians 2:1-8

Contemporary Address


I'll preach this sermon to a small neighborhood congregation I served as part time in 1995 & 1996 when they were between pastors. They are an upper middle class community, too well defined by a major thoroughfare built around them soon after the neighborhood and church were constructed in the 1960's. They are the most loving congregation I have ever met, and just might have to tell them that in this sermon. Of course, I run the risk of telling them something unique about them that they heretofore have thought is what congregations of God's people are supposed to be. Consequently, Paul's affection for the Thessalonians will resonate with them. There is a new and upscale neighborhood across the thoroughfare begun in recent years. They need to know how to evangelize realistically out there. I hope this sermon will help them get on toward doing so.


I will try to deal responsibly with the text and the auditors of the sermon. Life is difficult for too many folk these days. Unfortunately, few of them find their ways into church pews on many Sunday mornings. Ergo, out we go to them. We can preach an Evangelism's Attitude sermon from this paragraph in this epistle. We can be honestly relevant to the troubled souls hearing it & admittedly struggle with the expectations this pericope places on us. We can acknowledge that life's journeys encounter some rough opposition en route. We can emphasize the Gospel of God & the God of the Gospel, as well. There can be some comfort for the troubled & challenge for the complacent, here. This passage can bring peace and can stir any who have yet to make enough peace.


"What We Are To Do With What We Know"
      The Apostle Paul has a strong affection for the young Church in Thessalonica. You know about love. Yours is notorious. I have delayed telling you I think you are the most loving congregation in captivity, because I was afraid you might think such love is extraordinary in Presbyterianism. It is. I wish it weren't. Yet, I am very glad to tell you today that you love exceptionally. I am glad you do. Need transitional idea here.

We Know
      Paul wants the Thessalonians to keep in mind what challenges the Christians of first century faced, understandably & predictably. Evil, deceit, treachery, ran rampant there in those days. Flattery & greed did, too, most likely.

      As the 20th century begins to turn into the 21st, too much devilment expresses itself contemporarily, too. Name some current & local evidence of greed, flattery, violence, terrorism, political impurities.

      One other thing Paul knows is that "God approves of him & entrusts him with the Gospel". Do we know that? Well, at least, we can believe it. Or, at the very least, I do. Do we believe based on what we know or know based on what we believe? Is faith in search of knowledge or vice versa for you? This question has arrested the attention of theologians since the earliest essayists. How is it with you?

We Believe
      This week's lection from Matthew's Gospel, quotes Jesus' calling us to "love with our heart, soul & mind". Thomas Merton writes in Thoughts In Solitude, The purely mental life may be destructive if it leads us to substitute thoughts for life & ideas for actions. . . . Our destiny is to live out what we think, because unless we live what we know, we do not even know it." The Gospel of God & the God of the Gospel motivated Paul. They were real & valuable in the utmost to the apostle who wrote this love paragraph.

      That Gospel & its God moved Paul to love those folks then & there, just as they do you to love one another. Current examples known & celebrated need mentioning here.We Do In Response To Our beliefsshare the message of the Gospel. We do so gently & tenderly. Examples of , kindness, etc., are appropriate here. Epictetus' grave stone read, "Gentle Man" & II Timothy 2:24 admonishes us, who call ourselves "servants of the Lord", to do kindness toward others.

We share ourselves
      We do so genuinely & generously. Local, current and/or self-givers warrant mention here.

      Gentle & tender self-giving overtakes any temptations of flattery, greed, evil, deceit and/or trickery.

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