For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith … I was afraid that our labor had been in vain. I Thessalonians 3:5a, c (NRSV)
During my tenure as pastor of Pearisburg Presbyterian Church in Pearisburg, Virginia, we began a Preschool ministry for three and four year old children. I was a strong proponent of this outreach ministry as in my childhood I was privileged to attend a Presbyterian Kindergarten. I took great pride that our small church began this ministry and that it had been in operation for eight years at the time I left that church to come to assume my position as your Associate Pastor in September 1998. The Preschool continued for several years thereafter thanks to some good teachers and dedicated church members, who also strongly believed in this ministry. I had hoped that it might be a legacy of my pastorate.
Unfortunately several years ago a variety of circumstances had changed and the church closed the Preschool. I was very disappointed and saddened. I believed that it was a loss to the community. Selfishly, I felt that I had not left that church with any legacy of my twelve years there. At the same time, I knew that the Presbyterian Kindergarten I had attended had closed its doors before I completed elementary school and that was a long time ago. Things do change and changes are often hard to accept!
In our scripture lesson, the Apostle Paul is concerned about the Christians at Thessalonica and how their faith is weathering the persecutions. He had forewarned them of the hardships they would face while he was there and now he was elsewhere so that he could not encourage and strengthen them. He sent Timothy to assess their faith in the midst of persecutions and temptations. Paul is delighted to learn that the Thessalonian Christians’ faith is steadfast. Their witness and conduct attest that the Apostle Paul’s legacy of bringing Christianity to them has not been in vain.
While the kindergarten I attended and the preschool I was instrumental in organizing no longer exist, I, too, am convinced that those labors were not in vain! I know how fondly I look back on those days in kindergarten. Hopefully, by my life’s example, Mrs. Gettys and Mrs. Howell would be pleased at their influence upon my life as well as others who attended kindergarten with me. Likewise, though the preschool is no longer operating, I feel certain that we influenced many young lives and that the things they learned there are bearing fruit in their lives and in their interactions with others. Thank you, Lord!
O God, we are grateful for those material legacies we sometimes leave behind. Even more, we are grateful that we can have a positive influence upon people’s lives and leave a legacy that is not necessarily visible. Keep us ever mindful that whatever works we do for Your honor and glory are never done in vain. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.