In 1 Thessalonians Paul writes to his friends, “We always thank God for all of you when we mention you constantly in our prayers. This is because we remember your work that comes from faith, your effort that comes from love, and your perseverance that comes from hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father.” I share this feeling of gratefulness as we step into the Christmas season. I am thankful for you and our friendship and partnership in sharing the love and hope of Jesus.
I am most thankful for Jesus himself who came in the form of a human. With humble beginnings he was born in a barn to an unwed mother and laid in an animal food trough. The King of kings snuck into this world quietly, and as an adult was homeless, wore through countless sandals traveling from village to city to village, and occasionally borrowed a donkey for transportation. Jesus had a deep compassion for the poor and outcast, and before leaving this world told his followers that “whatever you [do] for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you [do] for me.”
As followers of Jesus, we continue his work of serving the poor and outcasts of society. Not because we are commissioned to do so, but out of a similar deep compassion, as we were once lost without Jesus and now we have found our hope, our forgiveness, our purpose, our home. Your gifts go far on the other side of the world to show the compassion of Jesus. People who have never heard the name of Jesus are finding hope and salvation. Children who had a bleak future now have a home and a strong education. Families on the brink of starvation are being empowered to build their own businesses through small loans. Lives and families and villages are being transformed in the name of Jesus because of your obedience and partnership. Thank you.
May we grow in the deep compassion of Jesus for others and may that compel us to extreme acts of generosity and love.