This is the radio devotional for Wednesday, November 27, 2019. Thank you to KCNI for inviting the Custer County Ministerial Association to record devotions.
Do you have everything ready for your Thanksgiving Day festivities?
This week may be a busy one for many of us, with the mid-week holiday and all the preparations and festivities that accompany it. In case you’re feeling a little stressed or worried about upcoming gatherings, this week, I’d like to lead us in a tool box of devotions to help us live this week with joy and peace.
To start, let’s breathe: God, let we who have breath praise you. Amen (Ps 150:6).
Let’s face it. Holidays like Thanksgiving can be as difficult as they are joyful, for exactly the same reason: they involve other people. There’s something about the stress of getting everyone together, combined with high expectations of the meal or how we’ll spend our time together, that sometimes brings out less than the best in ourselves and others. Likely as not, someone is going to say the wrong thing, or do the wrong thing, and someone else is going to be offended. Is it like this at your holiday gatherings, or is it just mine? So, this year, I’m preparing myself by working on the only person in family I can fix or control: myself.
Many of the epistles, the letters in the New Testament, are written to churches or communities that are like our families: they’re people gathered together who sometimes have disagreements and struggle to be our best with each other. Here’s what Peter says in his first letter to a widespread group of Jesus followers:
“Above all, show sincere love to each other, because love brings about the forgiveness of many sins. 9 Open your homes to each other without complaining. 10 And serve each other according to the gift each person has received, as good managers of God’s diverse gifts. 11 Whoever speaks should do so as those who speak God’s word. Whoever serves should do so from the strength that God furnishes. Do this so that in everything God may be honored through Jesus Christ” (1Pet 4:8-11, CEB).
If we let the Spirit do her inspiring, breathing work through this passage, these lines can help us get our hearts in the right place before our holiday gatherings.
First, it reminds us that, when we gather with others, we can either gather with sincere love, or we can gather carrying hurts, frustration, or irritability. This is practical. We cannot control others, but we can choose to put on love and show love to all around the table of fellowship. And maybe, just maybe, our commitment to loving kindness will bring out the best in others. But even if it doesn’t, our commitment to loving others with whom we’re feasting can be the ground upon which forgiveness is built. When we approach others with sincere love, it helps us be patient with others, and to forgive others.
Second, this passage reminds us of how we can see the others with whom we’re feasting. It reminds us that God has given each person in our lives gifts. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians emphasizes this saying, “The Spirit’s presence is shown in some way in each person for the good of all” (1 Cor 12:7, GNT). Frankly, seeing this is a gift of the Spirit in itself, and a challenge sometimes. But, if we remember that the Spirit’s presence is in each person with whom we’re feasting, it may be a little easier to love and forgive them, even when things go sideways between courses. May the Spirit enable us to gather together with love, forgiveness, and awareness of God’s presence.