1 Thessalonians 5.9-11
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.
When I arrived at church yesterday morning I had a lot on my mind. We had a rough and busy week here at St. John’s and the events from the previous days were weighing heavily upon my heart. After having the funeral service and burial for Chris Harris on Monday afternoon, I was surprised to hear on Wednesday that her husband and now widower, George, was rushed to the hospital and passed away shortly thereafter. Moreover on Thursday I received a phone call informing me that Howard Cassidy had been placed on Hospice care, and by the time I got to his room next door, he too had passed away. Our church quickly became the location for a tremendous amount of heartache and grief, and I was tasked with entering into that suffering and proclaiming the hope of the resurrection.
While I stood in the pulpit yesterday morning, talking with the gathered people about the importance of telling the great story, Marshall Kirby stood up from his pew and walked to the front. The sanctuary became silent as all eyes were on Marshall as he made his way up into the pulpit and wrapped his big arms around me in a hug. In the midst of our embrace Marshall said, “You do a great job telling the story for those who have died, and we are praying for you.” Up until that moment I had neglected to realize how much the recent funerals had taken a toll on me, and how badly I needed to be encouraged by the church through Marshall’s hug and words.
Therefore, readers of this devotional, I task you with the same responsibility that Marshall exemplified yesterday in worship. The gathered body of Christ is tasked with encouraging one another and building up each other for the betterment of the community. Whether you know it or not there are people in your lives who are suffering and need some encouragement. It can be as simple as a phone call, an email, or even a letter. All it takes is that extra effort to ask how someone is doing, and then truly listen to their response.
I needed Marshall’s embrace and kind words yesterday. I needed to be reminded of my calling and feel the support of the people I serve during this difficult time. Moreover we are now called to encourage and build up the families who have lost their loved ones in the midst of death. We gather to support them at the funerals, but our support cannot end there; it must transcend the walls of our church into the great bounds of our community so that we can be Christ’s hands and feet for the world.
Who needs encouragement and building up in your life? How can you show them a glimpse of God’s love through your actions this week?
I would wrap my arms around you right now if I could Taylor! Marshall Kirby is my hero for giving you something you needed yesterday. Something we should all strive for.