Today's message is kind of a combo package—recognizing the holiday of Thanksgiving while celebrating the start of Advent. It has always been a source of frustration for me that Advent gospel readings are always “apocalyptic”; dark, fearful, scary-- depicting end times. And it is arranged this way so that we get a sense of preparing for the future-- preparing for the final appearance of Jesus even as we prepare for the celebration of his first coming on Christmas.
But today, I want to focus on the epistle that Jayne read. A bit of background first. Our bible study group has spent months studying the book of Acts. In Acts 17, Paul was released from the jail in Philippi where he had converted the jail-keeper and baptized him and his family. But he was sent away by the Roman magistrate and went to the city of Thessalonica along with Timothy and Silas. On reaching Thessalonica, Paul and Silas preached in the Jewish synagogue on three consecutive Sabbaths. But some of the Jews became jealous and caused a riot. Paul and his helper Silas were forced to escape from Thessalonica under the cover of night. Two cities, two churches started by Paul and two sets of authorities who sent Paul away before he wanted to leave.
We know Paul wrote letters to the churches in these cities. Today's letter to the Thessalonians was written to encourage the community of believers that was established in Paul's short time there.