Scripture: 3 As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ.
[1 Thessalonians 1:1-3 NLT] Every year around June I attend an event, within an event, that reminds me that I belong. It is a meeting where everyone is at the same level of connection to a greater institutional structure. We all have the same distinction that allows us to both be invited to and be participants in the event. There is even a moment at this event where a special exception has to be made to allow others into the event who are not members with the same distinction. I know many of you are thinking this is some sort of secret society and/or a cult. I assure you it is neither one of those. Every year in June I attend the clergy session of The Florida Annual Conference Event. Everyone in the room is a clergyperson, or at least until we approve letting others in. One of the really interesting aspects of this annual meeting of The Florida Conference clergy is the sense of belonging. Those who are clergy in The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church have all gone through a process of accreditation and credentialing before they are considered clergy. For now, once you are ordained as a clergy member in The United Methodist Church you are guaranteed an appointment. This means that we belong to a group of people who have been set apart, or ordained, for specific work within the local church. In Florida there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 600 clergypersons. We belong to a pretty small and select group of people. It is a good feeling to belong to this group, especially knowing the gifts, talents, and abilities of those in this group. In today’s Scripture Paul reminds the believers in Thessalonica that they belong as well. He tells them that they belong to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. They have answered the call to surrender their lives to God the Father by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. They belong to the One who created the universe and who continues to care for them. What a feeling to belong to this group of people. When Paul was writing this letter the church was in its infancy. It was almost brand new, but it was growing like crazy. When Paul tells them they belong, what an amazing statement that would have been. They are part of the new movement of God right in their midst. They belong to God who is actively redeeming all of creation through His Son Jesus Christ. That is a pretty awesome movement of which to belong. The even more amazing thing is that 2,000 years later we belong to that same movement. All those who believe in Jesus Christ as the Lord of their lives belong. You belong and I belong. God is still doing the work of redeeming all of creation. We belong to that same work which the Apostle Paul and the believers at Thessalonica belonged. When Paul writes, “We are writing to the church in Thessalonica, to you who belong to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,” that’s us too. We belong. Today live like you belong. Live out today as a partner with God the Father in redeeming all of creation. One way to start is through the redemptive work of bringing the Holy Spirit into every moment of your day. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the words to say to your family, coworkers, and friends. Ask the Holy Spirit to make you aware of who might need your love and care today. When the opportunities arise ask the Holy Spirit to give you the strength, courage, and boldness to act. Live today as one who belongs to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Prayer: God, thank you for allowing me to belong. Thank you for choosing me. I promise to live today as one who belongs to you. In the name of Jesus. Amen.