Daily Office Readings for Saturday of Proper 20, 2020:Year 2
“After the uproar had ceased, Paul sent for the disciples; and after encouraging them and saying farewell, he left for Macedonia. When he had gone through those regions and had given the believers much encouragement, he came to Greece” (Acts 20:1 and 2).
To encourage a person is to build their self esteem. It is to make them confident in their vocation, occupation, faith, and civic duty. In this reading Paul encourages his disciples and others as he travels. First, he encourages his disciples, and then he encourages the people of Macedonia. He is full of the “lifting up” language.
We have so many people around us everywhere today that need encouragement. This encouragement does not mean only saying nice things to people who agree with you. It means giving hopeless people hope. I am again reminded of a poor woman who came to our parish while I was leading a meeting. I excused myself to let the woman know that I couldn’t see her at the moment but shortly I would be able to attend to her. In her urgency, she asked “has this church ever “hoped” anyone.” I was confused at first. I then realized that she was using an improper past tense of the word “help.” She wanted to know if we had ever helped anyone before. Apparently she didn’t want to wait for me if we didn’t tend to help, particularly financially. As it turned out she did not stay. But her word did stay with me.
We Christians are to “hope” the hopeless. Hope is not a verb, at least in its normal use. But I would like to change that. Can we not hope people? By this I mean encourage people; give people hope. Remember, we should not look for like-minded people. Let’s restrict our encouragement to only those who are human and created in the universal and internationally diverse Image of God. Let’s lift them up, encourage them, and give them hope. Amen.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do. John