I’ve decide that over the next couple of weeks I’m going to write on passages from I Thessalonians. I thought it might be fun to work through one of Paul’s letters. Thessaloniki, as the Greeks call it is a special place to me. I spent several weeks living in one of the neighborhoods of Thessaloniki during my Sabbatical summer. I have warm memories of the couple who hosted my husband and me in their third floor apartment and warm memories of the Greek people I met in the neighborhood. The picture if from the balcony of the apartment where we stayed. The Greeks are a friendly and kind people. I hope some day to get a chance to visit there again.
We learn in the book of Acts that Paul brought Christianity to Thessaloniki in his second major stop after visiting Philippi. Paul missionary work had been requested of him by a man from Macedonia calling to him in a dream. So Paul set sail and landed in Neopolis, modern day Kavala. He preached and established a church in Philippi and then went on to Thessaloniki. He began his preaching at the Synagogue there about his understand of what it meant for Jesus to be the messiah. Many believed including both Jews and Greeks. But some who didn’t believe tried to start a riot. When they couldn’t find Paul, they grabbed Jason, the man who was providing hospitality for Paul and accused Jason and his friends of trying to overthrow Caesar. Jason and his friends were released on bail, and that evening they secreted Paul and Silas out of the city.
Having been separated from the new disciples in Thessaloniki, Paul wrote letters. I find his affection for these people touching. He had barely enough time to know them. We read in in the first chapter:
We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Thess. 1:2 – 3)
I does makes sense to me that Paul has this much affection for the new Christians in Thessaloniki. There is a special bond that connects us as Christian people. I have sensed it when I have come as a new pastor to a new congregation. I sense it when I visit other churches on Presbytery business. I sense it when I show up unexpected to a church while on vacation. We seem to be connected already. I think it is the Holy Spirit working in us, saying, “Oh look! Here’s a new brother or sister you haven’t met yet. See the love of Christ in them?” That’s how I experienced all of you the first day that I met you when I candidate last spring.
Please know that I always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
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