Greet all the brothers and sisters with a holy kiss.”
— From Saint Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians
One of the scriptures from Lectionary reading of 1 Thessalonians that I came across(see here) got my attention this morning for two reasons:
For one thing, it’s so very instructive of what Christian living is about.
Paul instructs the Thessalonians, one of his favorite communities, to warn those who are disorderly, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient, rejoice always, keep praying, and so on . . . .
It’s such simple, straightforward language that you don’t have to do any “unpacking” of it to get the meaning.
Secondly, it jumped out at me today because Paul addresses his readers in this epistle and others as “Brothers and Sisters.”
The early Christians were family and addressed one another accordingly.
Some churches still do, but it’s not as common as it was in Protestant churches even in my growing-up years.
I like old-time churches where congregants still use that kind of family language, where a church member will address another member as “Brother Paul” or “Sister” Paula.
Here’s the aforementioned scripture on how to be a good Christian from 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22 (Common English Bible translation).
“Brothers and sisters, we ask you to respect those who are working with you, leading you, and instructing you. Think of them highly with love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.
“Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are disorderly.
“Comfort the discouraged. Help the weak. Be patient with everyone.
“Make sure no one repays a wrong with a wrong, but always pursue the good for each other and everyone else.
“Rejoice always. Pray continually.
“Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
“Don’t suppress the Spirit. Don’t brush off Spirit-inspired messages, but examine everything carefully and hang on to what is good.
“Avoid every kind of evil.”
Chapter 5 concludes, by the way, with Paul giving this intimate instruction:
Brothers and sisters, pray for us. Greet all the brothers and sisters with a holy kiss.
By the Lord’s authority, I order all of you to have this letter read aloud to all the brothers and sisters.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you.