Tomorrow is Thanksgiving day here in the United States. It is a day we set aside to practice gratitude. It is a chance to reflect on good and salutary things.
There are lectionary texts in the Revised Common Lectionary for Thanksgiving Day. May the words of our appointed epistle text speak to us and lead us to give thanks.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
Be joyful always. As we are in the Lord we have reason to have joy. When we remember that the Lord is near we can treat others with gentleness we ourselves would desire. When we remember the Lord is near worries can be let go. Our hopes, dreams and concerns can be raised to a loving God. God's peace can have its way no matter the response to our prayers nor the response time. We can abide in that peace which surpasses all understanding, which can protect our hearts and our minds. God who knows all we need and who loves us more than we could know has called us as children. We are safe and secure and this could and should evidence itself in joy.
Joy is not the same as happiness. Things may cause us to be sad, to grieve, to mourn, to hurt, to rue and to be shaken. Joy transcends these consequences of sin and of living in a wounded and broken world. We can be joyful even when we live out the very real consequences of sin--our own and those of others.
One of the ways to stay centered and grounded is to focus on what is true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing and commendable. When we see those things we ought to turn our gaze intently towards them. Praiseworthy and excellent things ought to occupy our thoughts. Emulating worthwhile examples keeps us move the right way and helps us most fully dwell in the peace God intends for us.
The surest place to find truth, honor, justice, pleasure and one worthy of commendation is in the person of Jesus the Christ. Jesus is most praiseworthy and excellent. Jesus is the supreme worthwhile example. When we ground ourselves in Jesus, or perhaps better yet let God ground us in Jesus, we will know abiding and certain peace.
The Lord is indeed near because God will not forsake us. Worries and troubles of this world pale in comparison to the surpassing brightness and joy found in Jesus. May God's peace be with us all.
God, Thank you. Help us be a thankful people dwelling on that which is pleasing to you. Amen.