Vv. 9-11 For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.
It is nice to hear in this season of Advent where the message is "Keep awake!" "Be prepared!" Paul's encouragement "whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him." So I can get some sleep as well! I can, perhaps, let my guard down, because, as they say, Jesus always has my back.
So many non-church people I meet are so convinced that judgment and wrath are really the only things the church is about. I try to tell them the opposite, that Christianity is primarily about encouragement and joy. By and large they don't buy it. I'm not enough of a witness to break through years of belief that the opposite is true. And I find that most of these folks have found elsewhere to get the encouragement and joy they need. It is certainly possible to find it elsewhere, although we may legitimately question whether it will have the resilience to deal with the time of trial, including death.
We can only show folk like this that we mean what we say by the way we live our lives, of course, which means not hiding our light (our encouragement and joy) under a bushel basket. So who, during this season when we celebrate the light, needs a little of that light shown on them? Who among us, near us needs some encouragement, some joy? Let us be that for others as Christ is for us.
Collect for St. Nicholas' Day:
Almighty God, in your love you gave your servant Nicholas of Myra a perpetual name for deeds of kindness both on land and sea: Grant, we pray, that your Church may never cease to work for the happiness of children, the safety of sailors, the relief of the poor, and the help of those tossed by tempests of doubt or grief; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.