1 Thessalonians 5:16–24 (NRSV)
Verse 16Rejoice always, Verse 17pray without ceasing, Verse 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Verse 19Do not quench the Spirit. Verse 20Do not despise the words of prophets, Verse 21but test everything; hold fast to what is good; Verse 22abstain from every form of evil.
Verse 23May 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. Verse 24The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.
Concluding his letter to the Christian community at Thessalonica, Paul exhorts his readers collectively as a body, not as individuals. He uses plural verbs and pronouns, which is evident in Greek but not in English. Some instructions relate to corporate worship, such as rejoicing, praying, giving thanks, and listening to prophets. Other instructions have to do with behavior, such as honoring the good and resisting evil. All of this is to anticipate “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Advent season is one of anticipation, both for the celebration of the coming of Christ as the Son of God and son of Mary and for his coming again in his own good time. Faith looks to the future of God, who is faithful in life now and in life to come. In the meantime, we gather to rejoice, pray, give thanks, and listen to the Word of God—and we seek to be good to one another.
Bless, O Lord, our congregation that it may worship and serve in ways that are pleasing to you. Amen.