16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all. 17 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. This is the sign of genuineness in every letter of mine; it is the way I write. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. – 2 Thessalonians 3:16–18 (ESV)
I hate goodbyes. I’ve never been good at them. I can still remember the post youth retreat blues I felt growing up. The trip would always start awkwardly, but then you’d get to know people. After some games, meals, lessons, singing, and a couple of late nights together, I’d get into a groove with new friends just in time for the week to end. Then we’d hop back on the bus to head home and milk all the fun we could out of the ride, before having to say our awkward goodbyes. Part of the response, I’m sure, was due to exhaustion; but the car ride home and the day after the retreat were always so “meh.” Looking back, only a few of the students attended my school and there were also a few who didn’t attend our church either. Simply put, I missed my friends; and I couldn’t wait for the next occasion that we could all hang out again.
I’m not sure how Paul felt about goodbyes. The reality is that he was saying it often. Even as we learned in our study of the Thessalonians’ letters, Paul would travel to a new town, pour our his heart thru proclaiming the gospel, and make new friends who became spiritual family just to have to say goodbye and turn around and do it again. I wonder if he ever had post-retreat-like blues? In the case of Thessalonica, something tells me he may have. He loved this church in a special way, and he made it clear that he longed to be with them again. And while he wasn’t physically present, his affection for them oozed out of these letters. I also wonder, as these letters were read to the church, did they have a sense of Paul’s presence? And did they feel any level of sadness as Paul’s words of goodbye were pronounced in the benediction?
Well, this week we will have the opportunity to ponder these thoughts together, for alas we come to the close of another New Testament letter. Studying God’s Word never gets old. Immersing ourselves in the context and imagining the relationship between the author and recipient are a vital part of wrestling with the author’s intent in our study. In an odd way, if you allow your self to be drawn in, we can feel the impact of Paul’s goodbye as we bring our Confidence series to a close. While I hate goodbyes, the truth is that much can be gleaned by the quality of a meaningful goodbye. Take some time and read these final verses and consider what core truths Paul desired to leave with the people he loved.
Be sure to listen to the worship set as you prepare for worship.
Love you, church! I’m so glad I get to see you on Sunday!
SUNDAY AM PLAN
9:00 AM – Worship Service On Campus & Online (Lancaster Campus)
11:00 AM – Worship Service on Campus & Online (Lancaster Campus) with Myerstown Campus attending in Lancaster
Everything you need for Sunday is available on the Mission Church App under Sunday Resources or on our website.