Advent Devotion - Thursday, December 7

1 Thessalonians 1:2-10                                                                 - by Mary Hostenske

The Sunday after Thanksgiving, a group at my Grandmother’s church was selling ‘Keep Christ in Christmas’ nativity car decals. While I agree with sentiment, I have wondered if the decals really serve the purpose for which they were created, especially remembering my reaction when I saw my first decal several years ago, “Why does someone still have a Christmas decoration on their car in July?”.

A classic anthropology text describes how the two different ethnic groups living in an Eastern European region used hat style as a visual representation of their ethnic affiliation. While each group considered their hat style a celebration of their unique ethnic identity, the anthropologist studying them noticed something different. Since hat style could be identified at a distance, it influenced how the region’s residents interacted with each other. An individual with a round hat would be open and friendly with another round hat wearing individual they passed in the street, but might not acknowledge an individual wearing the square hat of the other ethnic group. 

Today’s passage from Thessalonians describes what should be the result of someone seeing a nativity decal- being filled with the Holy Spirit, turning away from false idols, and turning towards the living, true God. This is the reason an individual celebrates their faith by applying a decal to their car. However, in today’s society, I worry that the decals may work more like the Eastern European hats. Is a person, whose car displays a Darwin fish decal, going to be as open to the Holy Spirit reaching out to them through you, if they have already made a plan to avoid you because they noticed the nativity decal on your car?

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy commend the members of the church of the Thessalonians for their works of faith, labors of love, steadfastness in Christ, and joy in the Holy Spirit. They also describe how the Thessalonians’ faith in God has gone forth everywhere. As we work to reach out and share Christ’s love with those we meet, we should be like the Thessalonians and let our faith, love, steadfastness, and joy in the Lord go before us. Let people know that we are Christians by our love and not our car decorations- love never goes out of season. 

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