Live Quietly and Set a Good Example

1 Thessalonians 4: 9-12

…you are yourselves taught by God to love one another, and you are in fact practicing this rule of love toward all your fellow Christians throughout Macedonia.  Yet we appeal to you, friends, to do better still.  Let it be your ambition to live quietly and attend to your own business; and to work with your hands, as we told you, so that you may command the respect of those outside your own number, and at the same time never be in want.  

I know many of you are curious about the classes I took last week with the Yale Divinity Summer Sessions.  It’s why you might have noticed I was a touch out of touch last week.  

The first class was Forgiveness: The Legacy of Desmond Tutu.  It was telling how much we avoid the subject, perhaps, that only eight people attended.  But those eight people, made for an amazing intimacy of conversations and sharing.  

One could almost argue that Forgiveness is the keystone of Christianity.  After all, one of the very last things Jesus said, from the Cross mind you, was: “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  What does that say about what we are called to do and be as those following the path of Christ?  PAUSE.  It is the end and the beginning.  Perhaps everything in between.  

We talked a lot about what is forgiveness?  What is forgiveness not?  Who needs forgiving?  Who, or what, is unforgivable (hint: no one)?  And why is it so hard!!?

Forgiveness is so much a Root of love and hope and community that you are likely to see more on this.  Thoughts and ideas are percolating.  Maybe as mine percolate, you can percolate some of your own thoughts on the above questions.

The second class was Community Building with a deep look at 1Thessalonians.  There was a lovely diverse group of people and a wonderfully diverse group of churches represented.  There were a lot of conversations around what is a good community, what makes a good community…what’s too big and what’s too small…what are we “supposed” to be doing as community…there was a lot to reflect on and consider…and worry over (a favorite quote: “worry is misuse of imagination”).  

When we got to the passage that is our reading today, it was like a soothing balm.  We’re so busy trying to do more, trying to be more, spreading ourselves so thin, stretched, that we’ve forgotten to honor what we do well.  

Trying so hard to be bigger and fuller and reach farther.  Tugged and pulled by the oughts and shoulds and coulds…

This passage stopped me short with a moment of Love.  

It felt like it was just written for us.  Or for me thinking about us.  

A moment to honor what we’re doing well from a two thousand year old letter.  Sure, there’s always more we can do, but for now, perhaps we could take a moment to honor and acknowledge what we do well before taking anything else on.  (Perhaps we would do well to do more of this pausing and reflecting and being in these times).  

Let me read again:

…you are yourselves taught by God to love one another, and you are in fact practicing this rule of love toward all your fellow Christians throughout Macedonia.  Yet we appeal to you, friends, to do better still.  Let it be your ambition to live quietly and attend to your own business; and to work with your hands, as we told you, so that you may command the respect of those outside your own number, and at the same time never be in want.  

-Love one another.

-Live quietly.

-Work hard with your hands.  

-Attend to your own business.  

-Have enough. 

-Be an example of a Good community.  

This is us.  Perhaps it’s enough to be good at what we do and be good at who we are.  

Maybe all that bigger, better, longer, fuller, busier…the shoulds and the coulds and the oughts aren’t who we are.  Maybe it’s not about more, but about being well and the possibility that stems from that place.

What if we get really, really good at what we’re already doing well?  

-Love one another.

-Live quietly.

-Work hard.  

-Attend to your own business.  

-Have enough.  

-Be an example of a Good community.  

What if we really hone in on our Example and do it really, really well?  

Maybe, that’s enough.  For now.  And from that Rooted Place, we can see clearly what it is that God calls for us to do next.  

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