March 3, 2021
So encourage each other and build each other up,
just as you are already doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11
The idea of being in a “room” started with a quote from Stephen King!
Early in the time of COVIDtide, this Stephen King quote came to my Inbox. He had written,
We did not ask for this room or this music; we were invited in. Therefore, because the dark surrounds us, let us turn our faces toward the light. Let us endure hardship to be grateful for plenty…. We did not ask for this room or this music. But because we are here, let us dance.
But the “room” is not intended to be a hiding place
It is quiet, it is peaceful (if I completely ignore that unwanted music at times). Most of all, there is no one else in there with me.
No, I am not one of those people who thrives on isolation and solitude I am not an introvert – pretty far from it and I am really needing my people back. However, the world as it is today has gotten harsh and divisive and most of all it has forgotten how to be kind to one another in all things.
Instead of hiding, we are called to care for others. To be kind to others.
This past January, I attended the Nebraska Synodical Women’s (virtual) Winter Retreat with about 70 other women from around Nebraska and a couple from out of state. Bishop Brian Maas led a Bible study on 1 Thes. 1:5. . . .
So encourage each other and build each other up,
just as you are already doing.
As I sat listening to what he was teaching, there were a couple of things that started stirring in my little dark room.
First, Paul was writing to a relatively new Christian church that was struggling with having left all of their old ways behind and started something completely new. They were hunted, hated and vilified for having left what was “normal” and worse, some of them were killed for their beliefs. Their world was in chaos.
Paul wrote his letter to reassure them that what they were doing was right, was good and was honorable. He wrote to build them up. In the verse quoted above, Paul wrote (as the Bishop so perfectly pointed out) not just to them as a community of Christ, but as the Body of Christ in community.
Paul’s words could have been written to the community of Christ today to remind us that we are not just a community in Christ, but the Body of Christ in community.
Because you and I are the Body of Christ in community . . .
I sat and pondered this thought of being the Body of Christ in community. Then I thought more about myself, hiding out in my little dark room. How was I being in community if I was hiding? How could I be more the Body of Christ in community with others when it was hard out there? Then I stumbled on more words that I had been pondering for the last several weeks. These are from David Hawkins:
Make a gift of your life and lift all — by being kind, considerate, forgiving and compassionate at all times, in all places and under all circumstances, with everyone as well as yourself. This is the greatest gift anyone can give.
I cannot be kind, considerate, forgiving and compassionate to anyone if I am hiding in my little dark room. Or if I’m listening to this music and being afraid to come out because the world has turned harsh and hard.
Remember, this is my perception. As I wrote last autumn, I am still struggling to remember that perception is not always everything.
So I will come out of my room.
I will do my best to remember yet some more words that have been floating on my desk lately. They come from Franklin Jones: Love doesn’t make the world go ‘round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.
St. Paul suggested 7 ways to be kind to others
The best words that I can remember and leave with you is to remind you of Paul’s words to the Church in Thessalonica so very many years ago: Therefore encourage one another and build each other up. (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
Paul goes on to remind them that the best way to do this (and I’m going to paraphrase in part here):
1. Honor your leaders in the Lord’s work (v12);
2. Warn the lazy (v14);
3. Encourage the timid (v 14);
4. Take tender care of the weak (v 14);
5. Be patient with everyone (v 14);
6. Don’t pay back evil for evil, but rather do good (v15); and
7. Always be joyful. Keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus (vv 16-18).
Paul gives more advice and the Bishop had more to say, but these things are bringing me back out of my dark room and into the world again.
Please come out of your “room” and be God’s love to others
Finally, the words that draw me out are from a hymn written in 1987 by John Bell. The hymn is “Will you Come and Follow Me” and here are verses 4 and 5:
Will you love the you you hide
if I but call your name?
Will you quell the fear inside
and never be the same?
Will you use the faith you’ve found
to reshape the world around,
through my sight and touch and sound
in you and you in me?
Lord, your summons echoes true
when you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you
and never be the same.
In your company I’ll go
where your love and footsteps show.
Thus I’ll move and live and grow
in you and you in me.
So I pray that God helps me love the me I hide from the world so that I can answer His call to share that with the world.
Susan Lauman, Certified Spiritual Director
*Will You Come and Follow Me?” Text © 1987 Iona Community, admin. GIA Publications, Inc., 7404 S. Mason Ave., Chicago, IL 60638. http://www.giamusic.com. 800.442.1358