Posted by: mattcolvin | November 27, 2011

1 Thessalonians 1: Advent All Year Long

Pardon the cheesy title.

Paul’s first epistle to the church in Thessalonika has a congratulatory opening:

Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything. For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

To become a Christian is to become part of a story with an ending that has been known from the first page. To become a member of the Church is to sign up for some waiting. It is to live in an expectation that God will put the world to rights, even with frightful judgment (“the wrath to come”, 1:10), and to have one’s present life colored and changed by that expectation. It is to be future-oriented, seeking to please the Lord rather than pursuing the American Dream. It means putting away idols (and the idols of our day do not have personal names, but abstract ones: sex, wealth, power, pleasure) to serve the living and true God.

This attitude of expectation is supposed to characterize Christians at all times. The calendar of the Christian Year, with its lectionary readings and collects and hymns and different-colored paraments — yea, even the three purple candles and the one pink one — it is all done unto a larger end: the cultivation of the attitudes and loves that are supposed to characterize Christians in their whole lives.

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