Pentecost +23 – Year A
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
In days gone by early Methodists were engaged by a question: What must I do to escape the wrath to come?
Many responses had to do with lowering one's tax (sin) burden. On the love G*D end was camp meeting praise, emotional and awakening. On the love neighbor pole were issues of simplicity to be able to give more charity and all manner of mercy acts around healthcare, education, and mission.
In a full-bore capitalist society, instead of being at its industrial revolution beginning, with a focus on present profit, concern about a wrath to come, a significant credit crunch, seems to hold no traction. If there is going to be a rescue it won't be from a prophetic moralist like Jesus. Rather, there will be any number of bailouts tried on the basis of capitalism's idol – Mammon. If we can just infuse enough cash into a roiling economy, its invisible hands will pull itself up by its own bootstraps. [Imagine that position, if you will, and you will soon see why one should never trust a fart and how messy things can and will get.]
A question worth struggling with in our day is: what will engage people's lives in the same way the old question about escaping from wrath did in the early days of Methodism as a reflection of an older time in Thessalonica? What would that be in your own life?
What organizing principle is needed in your life and the life of the world around that would lead to your taking "great joy from the Holy Spirit! – taking the trouble with the joy, the joy with the trouble"? [The Message] This present-oriented perspective may well be connected with escaping a more troubled future?