“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
(1 Thessalonians 5:18. NRSV)
Here in the United States, we pause on the journey from harvest to hibernation for a day of thanksgiving, a day of expressing gratitude and of counting blessings. We will express thanks in a number of ways. Some will gather with family and friends. Others will give time and energy to serving in their communities.
Yet, in our Thanksgiving, images from Ferguson, Mo., remind us that we still live with unrest. The grand jury’s decision not to indict generated for some feelings of anger, despair and sadness. The decision heightened emotions for many, and sadly, fueled our tendency to dig the lines in the sand ever deeper.
Especially in times of unrest, when disturbing images gnaw at the edges of our gratitude, we need to hear again Paul’s injunction to the believers at Thessalonica, “Give thanks in all circumstances.” In giving thanks, we are better able to open our eyes and ears to one another. In expressing gratitude, we can share our story in love and humility while hearing and receiving the story of another.
In that spirit of thanksgiving, I want to share thoughts from April Johnson (below), Minister of Reconciliation for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), following the grand jury decision in Missouri. I echo her prayer that as Disciples, we will come to the table, lamenting the empty chairs, yet engaging in active dialogue, learning from one another and working together. Much work remains to be done, and many miles remain to be traveled. We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.
This Thanksgiving, may the tables in our homes and in our sanctuaries, in all of our sacred spaces, be tables where we share the love of Christ, not only in bread broken and cup shared, but also in holy conversation. May we give thanks for God’s steadfast love, for Christ’s example and for the Spirit’s call to live as one, even in the not yet.