A Thanksgiving Reminder (from prison)
Last week’s memo drew advice from Paul about peace in relationships from his letter to the Philippian church. Another of his letters written from prison was addressed to the church in Ephesus and gives this advice for thanksgiving:
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:18-20 (NIV)
He contrasts filling with alcohol and filling with the Holy Spirit. One leads to casting off restraints and making ourselves vulnerable to the destructive consequences; the other leads to empowerment for good. Then he specifies three acts of communication.
He tells us we should be “speaking to one another”. In our “device-driven” culture we have to be more intentional than ever about creating time for face-to-face dialogue. He advises us to rehearse spiritual truth together using Scripture and spiritual songs. If you are less melodious than you would like, you can listen together to some professionals and sing along!
His advice then moves us to communication with God—singing from our heart to Him. He tells us that it should come from our heart—not a ritual, but authentic. Then he gives us the starting point that can stimulate the right kind of authenticity— “giving thanks to God the Father for everything”. When we recognize that all we have, all we are, and all we can be is a product of God’s grace, we become filled or empowered by the Holy Spirit. That gratitude is highlighted by communicating “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”—the One who redeemed us through His own sacrificial death.
As you enjoy the time our culture allots to “Thanksgiving”, I hope you will apply Paul’s wisdom and make the celebration more than just fuel for a “Black Friday” shopping frenzy!
This weekend our service will include special time for any who would like to encourage one another by relaying our gratitude to God.
This week also marks the beginning of our “Advent Conspiracy” project to raise funds for the Hope Renewed girls’ home in Mazatenango, Guatemala.
I look forward to seeing you!