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Daily Devotional • November 28

Sarah Cornwell
Can I Get a Witness?
A Reading from 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,

To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

Grace to you and peace.

2 We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly 3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of persons we proved to be among you for your sake. 6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy from the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia but in every place your faith in God has become known, so that we have no need to speak about it. 9 For they report about us what kind of welcome we had among you and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

G.K. Chesterton once wrote, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.” Perhaps Chesterton would make an exception for the Thessalonians. Filled with the Holy Spirit and inspired by St. Paul’s teaching on the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Thessalonians served as an example of Christian conviction to believers far beyond their own borders. 

In his commentary on this passage, St. Chrysostom attributes their success to zeal, which does not “ask for more time, or delay, or procrastinate. It is sufficient simply to offer one’s self, and all is fulfilled….” Holy zeal enlivens the Thessalonians, and in this spirit of wakefulness, they turn themselves to prayer and good works.

We live in a world which, as Psalm 4 says, “worships dumb idols” and “runs after false gods” as those in the ancient Roman world did, including, at one time, the Thessalonians themselves. We live in a time when faith in a living and true God is mocked and can at times lead to being socially ostracized. Like the Thessalonians, we are faced with a choice. Do we stay as we are, slumbering in a world that encourages moral torpor, following a well-paved road toward cynicism and pride? Or do we allow St. Paul’s teaching on the gospel to awaken in us a desire to follow a very different road, one which was blazed by the thrice-stumbling footsteps of a man carrying a cross? 

Let our reputation not be built on our ability to sleepwalk down easy roads where, at the end, we may present our resumé of worldly and self-regarding accomplishments. Rather, let us seek the more difficult road chosen by all the saints of God. Let us slumber no more in a faith that we have not truly tried, but rather awaken to a joy which overflows and serves as a public witness which extends beyond the borders of our lives. 

Sarah Cornwell is a laywoman and an associate of the Eastern Province of the Community of St. Mary. She and her husband have seven children and they live in Wheaton, Illinois.

Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

The Diocese of Nsukka – The Church of Nigeria
Episcopal Church in Connecticut
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