Watch Bishop Ward’s message about the first week of Advent above and read the transcript below.
“Come Lord Jesus. This is the ancient prayer for this beautiful radiant season of Advent, the season in which we light candles week by week. This first week, the candle is lit for hope; the second, the candle for peace; the third, the candle for joy; and finally, the candle for love. Very soon, we will light the white Christ Candle, as Christ is born anew among us.
The mood of this season is a mood of joyful anticipation. Appointed for the first Sunday in Advent is this text from I Thessalonians 3, Paul writes to his friends in Thessalonika: “May the love which you share for one another be strong and may it overflow to all and may it be like the love which I have for you.”
This beautiful expression of the love of God in us for one another and outward from us to all the world, is a glorious remembrance and also a promise of all the ways that God comes to us and uses us in Christ’s ministry.
In this text, Paul is writing to the Thessalonians, friends which he made in Thessalonika, when he and Silas went there to preach the Gospel. The resistors were so strong that they created a mob of resistance. They went to Jason’s home, where the Christians were gathered, seeking Paul and Silas. When they didn’t find Paul and Silas, they arrested Jason and some of the others. Paul and Silas were whisked away, under the cover of darkness to Berea, and even there, the resistors of Thessalonika came to create trouble.
It’s no wonder that Paul’s memory of his friends brings both joy and concern. So he sent Timothy to visit in Thessalonika and to bring him a report. Timothy came with a good report, that the Christians in Thessalonika were being strengthened. And so Paul writes them a letter. In his letter, he makes this strong wish for them, that the love within the community of faith would be strong and that that love given by Christ, would overflow to everyone in Thessalonika and beyond and that both the love within and beyond the community, would reflect Paul’s own love for the Christians there. This beautiful interaction is very much at the heart of this season, as we bring our warm memories; as we say with Paul, we look forward to meeting face-to-face with one another in parties and gatherings, in worship, and in service during this holy season.
May the love of Christ, so abundant in the life of Paul and Timothy and Silas and the people of Thessalonika. May this love also be alive in our hearts as we await the fresh, new, renewing presence of Christ, who comes to us very soon this Christmas. Come Lord Jesus. Come Lord Jesus now and always.”