Note: What follows is the message I shared with the residents and staff at Eagle Village during our chapel service this week.
I don’t know what you think of when you think of Thanksgiving… maybe you think of turkey, pilgrims, parades, football, candy corn, or cranberry jelly. For me, it’s the memory of eating canned peas, and of course the turkey and all the other yummy stuff, at the kids table with my cousins on the back porch at my grandma’s house.
Whatever your favorite part is, Colossians 3:15-27, tells us there’s more to be thankful for.
Verse 15 says, “Let the peace that Christ gives rule in your hearts. As parts of one body, you were appointed to live in peace. And be thankful.”
Holidays can be a pretty anxious time for people. Seeing people you haven’t seen in a while. Maybe people you don’t really like. All the formalities and expectations of others… wondering if we’ll please or even impress the people who are important in our lives.
And we can try… I for sure have… to calm myself down, to not worry about what’s going to happen or what might happen, but do you know what? Paul reminds us here in what he wrote in Colossians that peace doesn’t have to come from within us. We don’t have to muster up peace. Because there is a peace that comes from Jesus, and only from Jesus, that can rule in our hearts.
When Christ rules in our hearts, then his peace can rule in our hearts too, which means that anxiety, and fear, and discouragement… those things are no longer in charge.
I love that he also reminds us that we were “appointed to live in peace.” God didn’t intend us to walk around worrying, or afraid of what might happen, or all torn up about what happened in the past… he wants us to live in peace. He wants us to know that, no matter how messed up our past (or our present) might be, our future is secure in Christ Jesus.
And that brings peace. And it’s also reason to be thankful.
So, maybe we don’t think about it often… but Thanksgiving is about being at peace, with what we have and with who we are, because our future is secure in Jesus.
Thanksgiving is also about truth.
In Colossians 3, verse 16, Paul continues, “Let the message about Christ live among you like a rich treasure. Teach and correct one another wisely. Teach one another by singing psalms and hymns and songs from the Spirit. Sing to God with thanks in your hearts.”
I think a lot of people think about Thanksgiving as a time to be thankful for all the stuff we have. And, of course, it has become a time to think about shopping too, with Black Friday deals dominating the ads on TV and social media… It’s become about getting the best deals on all the cool stuff that we want to be thankful for next year… right?
Well, Paul reminds us here that we have a treasure that’s worth more than any electronic device, more than any toy or pair of jeans… the treasure we have to be thankful for… is the message about Christ.
And whether we speak it, or sing it, or treasure it in our hearts… it’s something worth giving thanks for.
And, finally, Thanksgiving is about love. Not the mushy gooshy kind of love, but the kind of love that moves us to action… to do something for someone else: to hold a door, to do an extra chore, to reach out, to give, to listen, to show compassion.
Verse 17 says, “Do everything you say or do in the name of the Lord Jesus. Always give thanks to God the Father through Christ.”
Everything we do, done in the name of Jesus, is a response to what God has done for us, and an expression of thanksgiving to him.