1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 (NRSV)
Chapter 5Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. Verse 2For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. Verse 3When they say, "There is peace and security," then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! Verse 4But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; Verse 5for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness.
Verse 6So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; Verse 7for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. Verse 8But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. Verse 9For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, Verse 10who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him.
Verse 11Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.
Paul’s closing words in his first letter to the Christians at Thessalonica provide a welcome counterpoint to the prophet Zephaniah’s troubling warnings about the end time in Monday’s reading. Paul has spent some time “encouraging” (the Greek word is “paraclete,” often used of the Spirit; used eight times in this letter) those who are worried about the coming of the Lord when some of their number have already died. Paul’s comforting word for them and us is that God in Christ has destined us not for wrath but for salvation. Christ’s death and resurrection have one ultimate purpose, that now in this life and in the one to come we might live with him. What more welcome and encouraging promise could shape our lives and the lives of those with whom we are encouraged to share the good news? Images that shape our daily lives are important. And Paul reminds us that as children of God we are not ones who belong to the night and darkness, but we are ones who live as children of the day and of the light.
God of hope, inspire and encourage us to live this and every day in the promise of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus, knowing that in him our life belongs to you. Amen.