Today's reading urges us to pray without ceasing and to always give thanks. Some days it is very hard to remember that we are called to "suffer with," to live in compassion. What can it mean to pray without ceasing in the midst of so much pain, despair and injustice? Those who labor to give birth know something of how much physical pain is involved in bringing a new child into the world. Perhaps our prayer for compassion, for "suffering with" in the midst of all the pain around us, can be a prayer for being opened to allow God's love to flow more freely into the world. In this time of Advent, as we remember again the waiting, the anticipation of the birth of our Messiah, we are invited to listen closely to prophetic speech.
Laboring God, help us to hear your voice in the prophetic speech around us. Draw us ever more closely into the peace to which you invite us, and help us to breathe through our own anguish as we seek to embody compassion in the world. Amen.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 (NRSV)
16 Rejoice always,
17 pray without ceasing,
18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
19 Do not quench the Spirit.
20 Do not despise the words of prophets,
21 but test everything; hold fast to what is good;
22 abstain from every form of evil.
23 May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.