Third Saturday of Advent

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

Reflection—v.23, ‘…sanctify you entirely…’

How is it possible to find the hope–the courage, even–to rejoice and give thanks despite desperate experiences? Unceasing prayer reminds us that the will of God, despite shifting circumstance, also never changes. And therein lies our hope. Paul is to the point: ‘May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely’ (v. 23). The Hebrew sense of ‘peace,’ which Paul, though writing in Greek is surely drawing upon, is wholeness—integral, all-the-parts-fit-together wholeness. God is the God who saves us—in order to make us whole again. In Bible study, a woman in our community facing a time of challenge declared, ‘God wants me to live!’ Yes! God wants all of us to live, to be well, to be whole. Paul’s benediction to his readers, and to us as well, is that the God who wills this is going to fulfill it—entirely and completely. There is a symmetry to the phrase, and it could be rendered, ‘May the God of wholeness make you completely whole.’ What promise and hope Paul gives us this Advent season and beyond.

Prayer God of peace, help me to find the courage to keep trusting, even in the face of trials, that your will for me is and ever shall be life and wholeness.

-Chad Hyatt