Advent 2020 – Sharing Ourselves
Based upon: 1 Thessalonians 2: 1-12
By Liz Hollis, Curate – Please Share Widely
What does it mean to share ourselves with someone? I’m just about to take my first solo wedding service next week, and so those all-important vows about sharing every aspect of life – for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health – are in my mind at the moment. Sharing your life with another person is intimate and it’s vulnerable. When it comes to the wedding service we remind the couple that it’s ‘not to be entered into lightly’.
Paul’s words to the Thessalonians then – that the group of apostles have been determined ‘to share not only the gospel of God, but also their own selves’ – are striking. Paul speaks, not to a beloved wife or even to close friends he’s known since childhood, but to a community into which the apostles came as strangers and who, at times, appear to have spread false rumours about the apostles and even questioned their motives. The words used to describe the apostles’ attitude towards these people are deeply intimate – they speak of deep and tender care, self-giving, the love and encouragement of a Father to his children.
In a society where we often see privacy and personal space a right to be protected, this kind of vulnerability seems quite counter-cultural – maybe even a little bit awkward. Yet for Paul, Silas and Timothy it seems to be closely linked with the good news that they share. The sharing of the gospel and the sharing of themselves and their life go hand in hand.
And perhaps if we take a moment to think about the gospel they are sharing this isn’t so surprising. As we journey further into Advent, we’re called to remember not just that Jesus as a man withstood mistrust and contempt to share his life with others, but also that in Jesus, God himself shared his life with humankind. It’s worth taking a moment to think about this and to allow ourselves to be amazed once again at the thought of God sharing his life in all the awkward intimacy and vulnerability that that entails.
There’s an invitation in there too – sharing goes both ways – just look at the wedding vows! Jesus stands at the door and knocks, inviting us to open the door and share our lives with him in all its ups and downs. Yes, it may at times be awkwardly intimate and vulnerable – we’ll be reshaped and remoulded along the way…but it should also be empowering! We may, at the moment, not be able to come together and share our lives in the may we might want to, but perhaps as we share ourselves with Jesus, we can ask him to help us find new ways of sharing the life he gives us with others this Advent.