And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.Colossians 3:15
Welcome to this celebration of our thanksgiving.
What is expected here is the most boring and irrelevant homily / sermon ever created, which we have all heard at least 42 times (I’m guessing the average age here is 42 – and that means 42 Thanksgivings with Jesus jammed in there via a service and a sermon).
Here the preacher expounds on all the things we have to be thankful for – the stuff, the family around us, friends, our Church, and safe travels. Maybe some good luck at the casino?
Having heard all that, what are you and I left to walk away with? What has God given to be thankful for today, and for the times ahead? How is God equipping us to live everyday as His faithful followers and disciples, living in peace and thanksgiving?
St. Paul was faced with a tough situation. The Church at Colossae (Colossians live in Colossae) was confused, distracted, ill-informed, going through the motions, and even getting the motions wrong. Sounds familiar? It sounds much like our lives today, even churches today. When do we catch a break?
Hey, here comes Thanksgiving. Perhaps we could get a break at Thanksgiving?
As we get nearer that day we hope to take a moment away from confusion, distraction, mis-information, and the day-to-day routines, the going through the motions, and even messing those up. We hope for respite. But one day won’t do it. The peace of Christ and thanksgiving won’t be made permanent in our lives by an annual observance.
Thanks be to God for St. Paul. As he did for the Colossians, so he does for us today. He’s writing to refocus us.To get us out of lives based on being fooled – and set on where we need to be and really want to be. Paul is working to equip us as Christ followers and disciples, to live everyday changed and on fire for God’s way of life, and to live our lives in true peace and thanksgiving.
Here’s Paul’s keys to the life we really want, to lives marked by ongoing peace and thanksgiving. Paul does this through what we call a bridge.
The musicians here, and those musically inclined know what a bridge is. It is a transformative musical statement connecting one section of music to the next.
The first section of Paul’s music is how we live together. He says: Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
This is about how we live together as Christ’s followers and His disciples. Think of the cure that is here. We are made right with God and each other by living lives of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another, forgiving each other by wearing lives wrapped in love. This kind of life binds everything together in perfect harmony. This is the first verse of the song. This is the equipment we need to get over confusion, distraction, mis-information, and day-to-day routines. These are the tools we have right now to draw in those who will only know Jesus through who we are. We no longer just go through the motions, we make the motions, we change life around us into lives of Christ centered peace and thanksgiving. Let this be the way we call the tune.
Then comes the bridge followed by the second verse: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Living lives of discipleship, being true full time followers of our Lord and Savior, Jesus, we focus on scripture and gathering. We teach each other, show the way forward through the wisdom we have gained, and then gather together to sing psalms and hymns with hearts focused on God the Father through His Son Jesus.
See, the bridge: And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful is the link between love of each other and toward all people and the loving and thankful service we need to completely focus on God. The “peace of Christ” ruling in our hearts binds us in the way that is more than a sermon, but rather is our toolkit for life. Equipped to live as faithful followers and disciples gives us cause to be truly thankful.