Today is Thanksgiving, so Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I am the main cook around here, so I don't have time for a long thoughtful blog post. But short thoughtful I can do! So here's the thought:
2 Corinthians 13:11-14 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All God’s people here send their greetings. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
So marks the close of the second letter Paul wrote to the believers at Corinth, that we have in our possession still today. Wow! What a giant humongous great big bundle of good will and high aspirations, no?
Rejoice: I hope all of you find joy today in everything you do: chopping veggies, caring for children, cleaning for company, setting the table, making small talk with in-laws, walking the dog...all of it. I hope that you will all rejoice to be alive, and rejoice that there is a metaphysical Super-being who loves you overwhelmingly and unconditionally. Rejoice.
Strive for full restoration: That's a tricky one. Holidays often mean that we are around people with whom we have fractured, unhealthy relationships in some way. (Not for all you perfect families out there, but the rest of us! ;-) I hope that many of you will have been praying about these relationships, and that today is a healthy step toward full restoration. I myself will have no such awkward relations around the table this year, but I have in the past. So I will say a prayer for the people dealing with that today. As much as lies in you, seek for peace, but don't accept abuse in the name of peace either. Full restoration is going to have to take everyone's feelings into account, including yours. For me and my family of origin, it will probably always be something we strive for but won't attain this side of glory. But we do what we can.
Encourage one another. Speak that kind word. Be a cheerleader to your aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, sons and daughters, spouses and parents, neighbors and friends. We all need it. Sow some good stuff out there in the universe. Always a good idea.
Be of one mind. What the heck can that possibly mean in a world where two witnesses to the same accident will see things differently? I think it means of one purpose, not doctrine or belief or point of view. So here's hoping all of you come together today to share a day of peace, and can at least be of one mind on that. Jesus did command us to love one another, so I am praying that we can all be of one mind in this: asking Jesus to live and love others through us today.
Live in peace. Overlook what you can; take a stand when you must- but do so in gentleness and respect. I realize these things are tricky, and the trickiest part is what gets first place: keeping peace or living in truth? If everyone in the home is there in good will, it shouldn't be a problem. But if like my family of origin, there is a history of emotional abuse, that can be super-tricky. Me, I decided that it was actually impossible. I have not spent a Thanksgiving with my mom since she kicked me out at seventeen. In my defense, I've never been invited. On the other hand, I deliberately live half a continent away, so that pretty much guarantees I will never be invited. So, live in peace, fellow Christ-followers. That might mean you have to avoid certain people, if after striving for restoration you have not attained it. I give you permission to do what you must to live in peace, abuse-free, restorative peace.
Greet one another with a holy kiss. That's a lot easier if you're Brazilian or Italian or Romanian, but kinda tricky if you're American. Whatever makes you and your friends comfortable. The idea is to greet each other with true welcome and affection from a place of Christian love.
And now the good part:
"And the God of love and peace will be with you." "May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all."
Intimacy with God is what I live for: that whisper of the Holy Spirit in my heart that He loves me. The gentle nudge of grace that says I am a delight to God just be being, whether I burnt the mashed potatoes or not. The sense of being surrounded by love and the peace of heart that this sensation produces in my life. That's the stuff. That's what I wish you all on this holiday, and what the Lord Jesus came to welcome us into: fellowship with the Trinity. May it be the joy of all our lives today. Peace and good will, SS