1 Thessalonians 5:11 – Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing. (NRSV)
Most of my time in ministry has been in small rural churches. Our churches were wonderful, energetic, vibrant places, which often struggled against the reality that we were in rural or remote areas where the population was declining. Despite this, we carried on.
While our organ may not have been in tune, nor our choir quite as accomplished as some, our hearts were filled to bursting with the love of Christ, and, if I may be allowed to boast, our social hour after church was probably "a cut above" because our goodies were all home-baked.
Every summer, our church would receive an influx of "summer" people. These were the city "cliff dwellers" who escaped the heat to small rural villages. We looked forward to their coming because they brought such encouragement with them. But the funny thing was that our visitors told us that we encouraged them.
To the church at Thessalonica, St. Paul wrote, "Therefore encourage one another with these words." (1 Thessalonians 4:18 NRSV)
While we are out and about on our holidays this summer, perhaps we will find ourselves in a position to convey "a word" of encouragement by worshipping with those who keep the doors open in a small church. In so doing, may we be encouraged as well.
Prayer: Lord God, lead us and guide us as we seek You in our worship experiences this vacation season. Amen.