Light one candle…begin your prayer time by lighting the first purple candle on your wreath.
READ: 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
12 May the Lord make your love grow. May it be like a rising flood. May your love for one another increase. May it also increase for everyone else. May it be just like our love for you.
Ever been in a conversation with someone who considers him or herself a “non-creative” person? You know them, right? They often say things like, “Oh, I don’t know how you can make ‘that.’ I can’t even draw…I can’t paint…I’m just not creative.”
Once someone said…”I can’t believe you can just make something so beautiful out of nothing.”
The “out of nothing…” stuck with me. Because, regardless of our medium as creatives, we aren’t “creating from nothing.”
I understand what she meant though…You (the creative person) can see a bunch of stuff (supplies, junk, fabric, paints) and turn them into something that once did not exist.
In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, there is that same sense of awe and wonder. Paul joyfully saw the new church in Thessalonica form around the news of Jesus, but to protect his own life, he had to flee in the dead of night before he saw it’s birth through to completion. He didn’t get to spend the time with them he felt they needed. He didn’t get to nurture them, mold them and develop them into this master piece of a faith community he desired them to be. He also understood that they were surrounded by signs of other gods or deities or “father” figures…Ceaser and Zeus. Mount Olympus towered over them as a reminder of “who was in charge” of their lives. From his prison cell, Paul worried for this new little church he had started and not been able to finish. He prayed for them. He waited…for word. He waited to hear how they were doing. He waited…
Often in our creative lives we make something that never quite feels finished. Or it doesn’t turn out the way we planned. Or we don’t know what it is suppose to actually be or what it is suppose to be used for…We can choose to put it aside, trash it, give it away “unfinished” or patiently continue to mold it and allow it to evolve into it’s new life.
As God’s creation, unfinished, broken and free to live facing the cross and turned from it, we too wait for that time when we will be complete. During this season of Advent we will be consistently reminded that God is not done with us yet. God has not put us aside, trashed us or given us away. God has not fled from our side. God is not locked away from us in some holy prison cell of glory. God remains with us. God continues to mold us, even while we take a season to remember he came and he will come again.
Paul worried. Paul waited in his prison cell. And then word came by way of Timothy…
They were growing. They were withstanding the pressure of being this new creation of a Christian church in the midst of this great kingdom of variety shop gods.
In his letter, we hear Paul’s joy. We hear him bubbling over with delight that they used their gifts to continue toward their true God and Father. We hear Paul lift them up in prayer and call on God, who never left them, to continue along with them. And God remains. Ever steady. Ever present. Ever loving.
God of timeless patience, may this season of Advent be one of joy…a kind of joy that comes from seeing you alive and present in the world…even in the midst of an imperfect world full of other gods and demands, pain and destruction. May we hold fast to your message of love and peace and bubble over to share that with those you have placed along side us. In the name of the one for whom we await, Jesus Christ the promised Messiah. Amen.
Consider today what it means for you to “not be finished.” In what ways is God still creating who you are intended to be? Share in the comments below or with a trusted friend.
About Mitzie…Mitzie Schafer is a Deacon in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She has a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Florida Gulf Coast University and a Master of Art in Religion from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary with a concentration in Christian Education and Christian Spirituality. She has been writing curriculum and teaching faith formation for more than ten years. Mitzie’s faith is grounded in the belief that God is the initiator and we are the respondent. That God’s yes is always bigger than our no. That being created in the image of the Creator, makes us by our very nature, creative. And that God LOVES ALL people.
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