9How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? 10Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith.
11Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. 12And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. 13And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints
Paul and Timothy had each been to Thessalonica and Paul wrote this letter of encouragement. In these verses he is expressing his prayers for the people as well as his love and desire to be with them.
I spent 45 minutes in physical therapy this afternoon and thought about how it reminds me of the spiritual journey. I have a shoulder that has been hurting for a while and it causes limited use of my arm and pain in my arm. In physical therapy I am learning exercises from Lisa which are slowly helping me with my posture as well as strengthening my muscles. At least I think that is what is supposed to be happening. It sure seems like slow going. I have exercises that I am supposed to do daily as well as ice my arm. Honestly, I am erratic in doing what I am supposed to do when I am at home.
So, it is a good thing that twice I week I join my physical therapist and practice these and learn new exercises. I am in a room with others with their physical therapists. Some have balance issues, or walking. We are each wounded and clearly in need of different kinds of help. I find it interesting that we don't have private rooms but share a space as we mutually learn and practice our own exercises.
There is something about coming together with others who share my physical condition that I find somehow encouraging. I'm not the only one. And there is something about coming together with others who share my faith that similarly is helpful. I am not alone on this journey.. I spent this morning with fellow clergy and listened to their stories about their work in their congregation. Even though I am no longer pastoring, I appreciate being able to be an encourager of others who are doing ministry. I feel connected to them and to God when we are together.
It is easy to go it alone and forget the blessing of community. I am grateful for the prayers of others and for those who walk with me in ministry. I miss the weekly worshiping community that is easy to take for granted when you are part of it. Just by our presence, we encourage each other to do the ministry and the healing work we are called to when we are apart.
Here is a blessing for today by Maxine Shonk that expresses it better than I can:
May the God who forms COMMUNITY be with you.
May you engage this God in mutual attention to what is holy and fulfilling for the others,
to what brings joy and delight and depth of understanding.
May your communion with this God move you to growth in your inner spirit
and to warm and compassion for a world that awaits connection with its Creator.
May the God of COMMUNITY bless you all your days.