This last Sunday, I preached the first of two sermons on Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians. Here was the sentence I began unpacking, which is my summary of both letters:
The power of the good news creates communities,
of holy people,
who flourish in the midst of loving relationships,
as they prayerfully, eagerly, and expectantly await the coming of their Master
and Messiah — Jesus.
We covered the first three lines of that sentence in the sermon yesterday, and it was 1 Thessalonians 1:1-4:12 that provided the material for our study.
This coming Sunday, we will explore what it looks like to “prayerfully, eagerly, and expectantly await the coming of our Master and Messiah—Jesus.” And to get the most from the sermon time, you should read 1 Thessalonians 4:13 to 2 Thessalonians 3:18. As we are now adding 2 Thessalonians to our study, it will help you to check out the resources that the Bible Project has produced on that little letter.
As I sit here on a Monday morning, pondering how best for us to prepare for another Sunday, it strikes me that sometimes all the days in-between our Sundays sometimes conspire to deplete us, distract us, and disquiet our hearts to the extent that we don’t even want to show up for the gathering, or, if we do, we don’t come in expecting the service will likely do anything to turn it around for us.
I was reading something from a friend about this, and he addresses the reality of our workaday world head-on:
Our Father is glad when the family gathers. He is eager to work, ready to pour out his favor and give fresh fillings of his Spirit, when his people assemble to worship his Son.
No matter what kind of week you’ve had — no matter how depleted your tank, how distracted your mind, or how disquieted your heart — God may be pleased to turn it all around on any given Sunday.
Corporate worship may be the single most important means of God’s grace in the Christian life because it brings together all three essential principles of his ongoing kindness: hearing his voice (in his word), having his ear (in prayer), and belonging to his body (in the fellowship of the church).
When God’s people gather to worship Jesus together — with the Scriptures open and songs of praise, confession, and thanksgiving in our mouths — the Holy Spirit hovers over our assembly, standing ready to rejuvenate dull hearts and restore languishing souls.
The great invitation of Isaiah 55, crafted some seven centuries before Christ, is a fitting call to the banquet of corporate worship in the new covenant:
Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live. (Isaiah 55:1–3)
He goes on in his article to expound on how God does this, and how we can ready ourselves for his work in our lives at the Sunday morning gathering. Namely, we should Come Thirsty, we should Come Empty-Handed, we should Come Ready, and we should Come As We Are. I highly recommend reading the whole article sometime before this coming Sunday.
I’m looking forward to being with y’all this Sunday, as our Father performs his rejuvenating and restoring work in us, in the name of his Son, coming to us by the power of his Holy Spirit.
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