“…that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith,
as you are rooted and grounded in love.”
As I write to you today, the coronavirus continues to rise up–while hospital beds continue to go down. Our Governors are increasing their efforts to slow down the spread of the virus. And the CDC is now urging us to remain in our home. Under these circumstances, for me to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving might seem oxymoronic. But we’re not the first to feel like we’re living under house-arrest. St. Paul was living that out for real when he wrote to his fellow-believers in Ephesus while chained and awaiting judgment in Rome. You would think he might not be seeing much reason to rejoice, but in fact the opposite is true. Paul’s focus is not on himself, but on the spiritual welfare of his far-flung friends in Christ. And this is what he has to say:
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,
From whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name…”
Paul looks on them as family, and his loving concern is no different than that which we hold for our own families as another Thanksgiving Day approaches. Like Paul, many of us cannot be physically present with our loved ones. As this heightens a cacophony of feelings, one thing emerges that takes precedence over all else—and it has nothing to do with the kind of stuffing we had planned for or whether our turkeys will be traditionally roasted or fried. What emerges is our deep gratitude for these beloved ones themselves, and our passionate prayer for their welfare as the holidays approach once more.
“I pray that, according to the riches of his glory,
You may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit…”
Friends, we know that family has always been as much about “love-lines” as “blood-lines.” May our thanksgiving be about that, as our prayers rise up for both family and friends and also for “the least of these” our brothers and sisters most severely impacted by this pandemic. Like our prayers, may our charity reach far and deep as we prepare our hearts for a different Christmas, remembering that God is faithful in every time and season of our lives.
“Now unto him who by the power at work within us
Is able to accomplish abundantly far more than we can ask for or imagine…”
In light of that, I do indeed wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving (from my “house-arrest” to yours) with profound gratitude for the One who breaks all that chains us and who roots and grounds us in love.