“THANKSGIVING—Sacred & Secular”
Dear Workers in the Word,
It’s thanksgiving time. Capital “T.” At least that’s what the calendar says. For Christians, we know that every day is a day of thanksgiving…every moment is a time of thanksgiving… each act of our lives is a time of ‘thanks-living’… because that’s just how we roll…thankfulness fuels the fire in our souls…
St. Paul, knew that. He let the Gentiles in Colossae know about that. He told them of Jesus and they chose to follow the teachings of Jesus and we get a taste of that in his Letter to the Colossians…
“Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving ; 3 praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ…” -Colossians 4:2-3a
What a power packed couple of verses for people such as us…so, let’s not neglect the power of the Word…it’s easy as 1-2-3!
1) Devotion to prayer. 2) Stay alert. 3) Host an attitude of ‘thanksgiving.’ Just for the record people who do this will not be robbing banks or kicking dogs or yelling at children. Remember, I know some people who claim to be Christian but their behavior betrays them. We know them as bank-robbing, dog-kicking child yellers because that’s what they do and children know best… believing and imitating what we do rather than what we say. I’d rather my children help me end hunger in the world in our own lifetime.
St. Paul said, “prayer has power to open doors” and Paul needed their prayers so that God would open doors so others could hear the mystery of Christ. What mystery? The mystery that God became one of us; lived among us and died that we might live a life free of fear of death and the not take so seriously the weight of our own guilt and misgivings that we carry on our shoulders and in our heads and our hearts! What Paul called ‘grace,’ we call ‘gift’… and that we are thankful. God knows I carry around enough of my useless junk. I ‘should-on” myself more than anyone I know and that is why this ‘mystery’ is so critical to our life and our future.
You and I hear a lot these days about the ‘separation of church and state.” I believe in it; but not the way it gets understood in 2010. The concept of the separation of church and state was inserted into our ‘Founding Fathers’ documents (and not even using that language) as a means of not allowing the government to establish a church that all were required to take part. They knew that would cause trouble and they also knew that there was no reason to state the opposite because it has always been the place of the ‘church’ to be a prophetic voice to the public. It goes all that way back to King David and Nathan the prophet (over stealing Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba) and is part of Luther’s own writings when he reminds the Christian of his day that God is at work in the kingdom on the left (secular power and community structures) and in the kingdom on the right (ecclesiastical structures that seek justice and freedom for all). It really is at the heart of the conundrum of “thanksgiving’ being a federal holiday where most folks get to have the day off… a secular and public holiday based upon a Godly attitude of being appreciative of all that we have and all that we are in days like these. Christians fuss because someone wants to take down the manger scene in front of city hall but we never find not-so-Christians fussing over having the day off whether they give thanks to God or not…
If Luther is right and God is in the government and God is in the church…then we sometimes ask, “Why is stuff so messed up? Why all the tension and angst?” We all agree, it should be different or better or something. But, to ask and answer these questions requires a larger understanding of what’s at the heart of all that is messed up? To ask this is to suggest that God is responsible for all that is not right and not good. Well, yes and no. Luther also believed in the power of evil. The Prince of Lies is real for Luther and he had words prepared and sounds to make if he ever per chance met the devil face to face! And this we, too, must acknowledge and come to grips with.
God is present in the sacred and secular and so are we and so is the power of the devil and when those three powers collide, a battle rages on and only one will win the day. Jesus. God’s grace in Jesus ‘trumps’ all other powers or wild cards on the table. But, since God has given us free will…to choose him and his ways…we also have the choice to do just the opposite…choose selfishness and greed…choose personal gain over the community’s well-being… choose a ‘me first’ mentality instead of a “God and others” posture. It’s a battle we engage and it’s one we fight every day and it’s because of this reality that our thankful hearts are noticed in times like this.
1) Devotion to prayer. 2) Stay alert. 3) Host an attitude of ‘thanksgiving.’
The New Life church office will be closed on Thanksgiving Day. And it will be closed on Friday as our hard-working staff is able to enjoy a bit more time with family and friends. They deserve that because they pray for you; they stay alert and assist you in times of joy and distress and they pray that God will open doors so that others will come to know the mystery of Christ from you!
God is present in the sacred and the secular. Always has been and always will be and that is the genesis of thankfulness…