Monday, December 6, 2010

Tuesday in Advent 1

1 Thessalonians 2:1-12

v. 7b-8 But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.

This is not the picture we often have in our minds of St. Paul. Most of us, if asked to describe him, would probably do so in much harsher language than this. We would certainly not use words like gentle, tender, and deeply caring. Yet clearly the side of Paul put forward here was a reality. And how does it change our mind about him if we think that it is this side of him that predominated? Personally, over the years I have become a great lover of St. Paul. I love him most for how he wears his heart on his sleeve, as he does in this passage. Of course, this tendency is more difficult in other passages, where he can, in fact, be quite harsh. We all have our moments. Clearly here he is dealing with a community for whom he has great affection.

I actually think this passage has something to do with evangelism. The model for how we evangelize an individual is not a sort of forensic, Tell them the gospel and let them decide where they stand. It is, rather, the deep caring of which Paul speaks, that offers first and foremost our own selves, that builds a relationship that both sides can say has been very dear to us. Then out of that relationship can come words of good news and an invitation into caring community. And then, if the invitation is taken, the relationship must continue, even deepen.

Among the people who are here in California working on the SCLM project is the Rev. Dr. Ellen Wondra, former priest associate at Two Saints. She sends her greetings and her deep affection. She is still in Evanston, where she moved in 2004 to teach at Seabury-Western. I have been trying to catch her up on Two Saints. It s a reminder of how much has happened in 6 years!

Today, November 30, is the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, brother of St. Peter, patron saint of Scotland. The Collect of the Day also speaks of evangelism:

Almighty God, who gave such grace to your apostle Andrew that he readily obeyed the call of your Son Jesus Christ, and brought his brother with him: Give us, who are called by your holy Word, grace to follow him without delay, and to bring those near to us into his gracious presence; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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