Jump Start # 2725
Colossians 3:15 “Let the peace of Christ, to which you were indeed called in one body, rule in your hearts; and be thankful.”
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. It will certainly look much differently for many folks. Many traditions such as heading to a movie theatre will be altered. Some may even think, “there’s not much to be thankful for in this messed up year that we’ve had.” School at home. Work at home. Worship at home. Masks everywhere you go. And, the virus is spiking all over the country. How can we be thankful?
I know some families that have had funerals this year. Even in that, things were so different. I know some who have loved ones in nursing homes and the only contact has been peering through a window. I know some who have lost jobs this year. I know some congregations that had all kinds of trouble this year, much of it about masks and whether or not someone has the right to enforce wearing them. Sports with no one in the stands. An election that has many wondering if it was right and fair. Be thankful? Really? For what? For this?
Our passage today calls for us to be thankful. Written by an apostle who was in a Roman prison. His prison epistles, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians are filled with thoughts of thankfulness and joy. This was not a miserable person. This was not a person who felt that life cheated him. This was not someone who saw only the bad breaks in life. Be thankful. Be thankful for 2020. Be thankful in the midst of a storm. Be thankful in a pandemic. Be thankful when things are not as you would want them to be. How spoiled we must be if we can only be thankful in the sunshine.
Here is my short list for you to think about:
First, you are still here. Be thankful. Maybe you had Covid-19. You are still here. Maybe things have been inside out for you. You are still here. Maybe it’s been tough turning your house into a school room, an office, and a house of worship. You are still here. A live dog is better than a dead lion, Solomon tells us. Easy to think, ’yeah, I’m still here, but so is the pandemic.’ Lots of problems are still here. Sin is still here. But so is the Lord. You can worship. You can pray. You can do good. God has kept you here for a reason. Be thankful for that.
Second, you are part of the amazing kingdom of God. Nothing, absolutely nothing can destroy this kingdom. God promised that in Daniel. Wars come and go. Kingdoms come and go. Pandemics come and go. But, God’s kingdom remains. And, you are part of that. You are part of something eternal, big and powerful. God loves His kingdom. Sometimes we view the kingdom through the walls of our church building. That’s too limited a view. God’s kingdom is global. There are saints in Norway, Philippines, Africa, America, and Europe. There are so many Christians that no one place could hold all of us. And, great things are being done every day. People are being converted. Lives are changing. The word is being sent out worldwide every day. And, to think, you are a part of all of this. You help make it possible. You are on this amazing team. You are part of something large, eternal and divine.
Third, this storm of 2020 may well be the hands of Satan. We don’t know. But if it is, is this the best he can do? We are still standing. We are still praying. We are still worshipping. Yes, we preachers have had to do more videos than we like, but it’s ok. Yes, we’ve had to make some adjustments about seating and touching, but it’s ok. Satan shook the tree and maybe a few fell, but not you and not me. Looking back, his fastball wasn’t that fast. Plans are being made for next year. We are not hiding in a cave like Elijah was. We are not wringing our hands in despair. Onward we go. The Lord has been with us and will continue to be with us. Faith is not shaken nor destroyed. Hope is not abandoned nor given up. We are marching to Zion.
Fourth, this year has opened our eyes to things that we may have taken for granted such as fellowship, worship, and being together. Sometimes things are not fully realized until they are taken away. Then we see how wonderful they were. We’ve learned that worship services is much, much more than just getting information from the pulpit. Hearing babies cry, seeing older folks coming in, the teens, the young couples, the shepherds, the busy deacons—that’s what we are. It’s not a building. It’s not pews. It’s us. Family, whether physical or spiritual is important. Bless be the tie that binds our hearts together. Worship comes from our hearts and it’s not locked in a building. Everywhere and everyday our hearts are lifting Heavenward. God is good. God hasn’t forgotten us. God loves us.
Finally, we’ve learned how to adjust. Making changes is hard for some. But storms can force a person to do what he doesn’t want to do. We have found innovative ways to connect, teach, and build lives for Jesus. We’ve seen that there is more than just one way to teach a class. We’ve see that connections and communications can take place even when we are not together. We’ve found ways to encourage, help and lift hearts other than through hugs. We’ve had to put on our thinking caps. We’ve had to try some things that we have never done before. And, through this we’ve found ways that are working better than before.
Thankful…this year? In all of this? Absolutely! Positively! God has been good to us.