Written by Courtney McHill, United Methodist Pastor
Bible Background When Pastor Mark and I sat down to talk through what we should look over the weeks after Pentecost and before I transition to another place, all I kept coming back to was gratefulness for this place. I finally just asked if we couldn’t have an entire Sunday to just talk about what we are grateful for together. In the midst of transition and change, we sometimes get so caught up in the next steps that we forget to pause, breathe together, and think about all of the wonderful things around us. This Sunday is for this kind of thanksgiving.
This letter is written to the church in Colosse. There is some debate on whether or not Paul wrote this letter. The letter claims that Paul is the author along with Timothy. This letter is similar to the letter that Paul wrote to the Ephesians. On the other hand, there is a long line of tradition of disciples using Paul’s name in letters for legitimacy. The letter outlines what it means to stay true to God’s word (word had it that they had integrated pagan customs in with Christian ones, gasp). While these letters are full of lovely theology, we picked this scripture because of the beginning of the letter. The author of these letters always starts with thanksgiving for the church who is receiving the letter. While the author reflects on ministry and life, thanksgiving appears right away as a launching point for everything else.
This is not such a bad way to start a conversation I find. As I reflect on ministry and life and the relationships created here, I can’t help but find myself giving thanks. I have found that as I talk about the CoOp to others I can’t help but spouting off all of the things I am thankful to be a part of here and the call that each of us has in our mission. This place is truly a called and special place that we need to give gratitude for in our life together. I can’t help but spill over into thanksgivings. There will be reports of how this church has remained steady to God’s call and larger mission to love and serve with all people to restore all of creation to God’s loving embrace. Thanksgiving then spills into constant prayer. The letter outlines this so well. Thanksgiving, while part of prayer, leads us to a life of prayer for one another. May it be so.
Quotes of the week
“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.” ― Meister Eckhart
“When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.” ― Anthony Robbins
“In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert
Colossians 1:3-12 (Message) Our prayers for you are always spilling over into thanksgivings. We can’t quit thanking God our Father and Jesus our Messiah for you! We keep getting reports on your steady faith in Christ, our Jesus, and the love you continuously extend to all Christians. The lines of purpose in your lives never grow slack, tightly tied as they are to your future in heaven, kept taut by hope.
The Message is as true among you today as when you first heard it. It doesn’t diminish or weaken over time. It’s the same all over the world. The Message bears fruit and gets larger and stronger, just as it has in you. From the very first day you heard and recognized the truth of what God is doing, you’ve been hungry for more. It’s as vigorous in you now as when you learned it from our friend and close associate Epaphras. He is one reliable worker for Christ! I could always depend on him. He’s the one who told us how thoroughly love had been worked into your lives by the Spirit.
Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.
Questions for the Week What do you give thanks for? Who do you give thanks for?
What do you pray for these days?
If you were to write a letter to someone outlining a prayer you have for them, who would it be and what would you say?