Good News Youth Devotional

By Gimbiya Kettering (Writer, Washington DC)

1 Thessalonians 2:17-20 “Indeed you are our glory and joy.”

To those followers of Christ, the ones who had known him as man walking, eating, and sleeping, the weeks between the Resurrection and Pentecost must have felt barren. Jesus is risen. But to those who had touched the miracle of God made flesh that human Jesus was gone. Gone, too, were the miracles of the blind seeing, walking on water, and the water into wine. The world around them must have felt unchanged – the Roman Empire still an Empire, the poor and oppressed were still waiting for justice and freedom, and suffering continued in the forms of war and disease, and the dead did not rise from their tombs.

If it is easy to find faith in times of signs and miracles, then it is also easy to lose faith in ordinary times.

These are ordinary times. Covid-19, as it ravages the lives of individuals, the networks of families and communities, and whole countries is a uniquely devastating disease in our lifetimes. But history has been formed by plagues and pandemics. It was the diseases brought by Europeans that killed millions Indigenous peoples so that “the Americas” seemed ready and prepared for colonialization and settlement. It was the plagues in Europe before that brought an age of empire and domination. We are not the first peoples to pray, or not pray, in the midst of pandemics for miracles and hope and peace.

In the centuries since that first Pentecost, many denominations have searched to add meaning and richness to these weeks. Eastertide is named as a time for reflection and discernment as we await the gifts of the Spirit and the miracle of the good news spoken in every language. But this is a theology of hindsight. To those who would become the foundations of the early church, those weeks were not spent waiting for a predetermined outcome. They were a time much like ours when faith was like a darting, winged thing that flies from us when we run towards it. There is no certainty that is more than a figment. Nor can we be certain, if it is real, that we can catch it. This is not the same as being without faith.

Paul opened so many of his letters open with saying he missed the people he knew and had visited. I never understood that before this. I miss you. I know your lives and faiths are shaped by this pandemic, the loneliness of quarantines, the economic devastation, and the deaths of so many loved ones. It is hard to find the stillness of reflection or the strength of discernment. Still, it is spring and my children delight in the glory of creation. We catch ladybugs to set them free. Under the dry leaves there is a broken, sprouting acorn that looks like my hopeful heart. When we blow dandelion puffs, it is my prayers that catch the winds.

Good News: Through our fears and uncertainty we can have hope in Christ

Discussion Question: For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presences of our Lord Jesus when he comes? (1 Thessalonians 2: 19)

Go one step further: If you can, go out into the glory of creation and observe the hope in the details of spring. If you cannot go outside, draw or write or paint from the memory of spring that makes you feel free.

Good News Youth Devotional

By Maddie Sweeny (Camp Emmaus Counselor (IL))

1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 “…encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God…”

In this section of Paul’s letter to the people of the Thessalonian church he just finished thanking and praising the people for their good faith and has moved on to reminiscing on how he discipled them. Paul talks about how he, Silas, and Timothy came to their village with only honest intentions and the purpose to share the Good News with love in their hearts. Paul and the others work side by side people of this church as equals without burdens. While working side by side, that is when they shared not only the God’s Good News but their own lives as well. Paul was willing to get personal with the people. Paul and the disciples nurture the people’s spiritual growth and show the people love like a parent while encouraging them to live a holy life. Paul’s description in this letter on how they earned the trust and built relationships with the people of the Thessalonian church is a good lesson on how we can build relationships and disciple within our community. Again, Paul emphasizes how he worked side by side with the people instead of using their authority as apostles of Christ to gain trust. Just being a good student or working everyday with others and being a good example of Christ can help encourage others around you to the path of Christ. Are you a good example of Christ in your everyday living? What are some things you can do to improve that if you feel that you are not? Do you ever feel discouraged when talking about your faith among your friends? Paul too had moments where he suffered and had opposition while trying to spread the Good News, but God will give courage to keep going. Overall, Paul shows us, with God in your heart, that providing love and being humble goes a long way, can help build strong connections, and provide the way to live a worthy life.

Good News: Sharing the good news of Jesus means spreading love

Discussion Question: Who in your community reminds you most of Paul in Thessalonica? What are somethings people have done or said to make you open to new ideas?

Go one step further: