Foundry United Methodist Church

Rev. Theresa Thames-Lynch

Minister to Children and Families

 

 

 

 “Pieces of Peace”

Thanksgiving Day

Thursday, November 22, 2007

 

 

Philippians 4: 4-9

Theresa

Rev. Theresa
Thames -Lynch

 

It is hard to believe that today is November 22, 2007. It seems as if this year has gone by so fast; and what a year this has been.  For many, today marks the beginning of the ending of 2007.  This is the time of the year when we gather with family and friends, do our holiday shopping, trim the tree and celebrate the Savior’s birth.  The last 39 days of the year are usually full of busyness and festivities.  One holiday song says, “It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”  But, that is not always our reality. 

 

It can also be said that, Thanksgiving Day is the beginning of great amounts of anxiety and stress.  Oh, the expectations! There are expectations on the job, from the family, the children, parents, spouses and ourselves.   If only we had more time to be, to do, to go.  This time of year is difficult for those who cannot afford the merriments of the season and those who mourn, remembering loved ones.  It is a particularly difficult time of the year when we have yet to see God’s promises fulfilled in our lives: the promises of good heath, a better relationship or the arrival of a child.  The lights, the gatherings, the people – it all evokes so many emotions.  And in the midst of it all, we receive this letter from Paul.

 

Like us, the Christians in Philippi are in the midst of an anxious and stressful time.  They are trying to understand their newfound faith and live upright lives in the absence of their leader Paul who is in prison. They are trying to put together the pieces, the pieces of their lives and faith. 

 

When I first read Paul’s letter, I was annoyed.  What in the world does he mean by do not worry about anything?   How is it even possible not to worry?    It took a long time before I truly understood these words.  Eventually, I realized that it is all about gathering the pieces of peace.

 

The first piece is prayer.  Paul writes, “Everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”  There is something about prayer mixed with a little thanksgiving that creates peace.  This mixture of honest conversation and thankfulness allows us to see beyond our initial needs.  This prayer comes from a different, much deeper place within us: a prayer of lament and thanksgiving that is detached from the outcome.  These are our words to God that start in the minds but end up flowing from our hearts.  It is in this act of faith that we are transformed.  We are able to receive “the peace that surpasses all of our understanding.  The peace that is beyond circumstances, but firmly rooted God.

 

Once we have prayed, Paul suggests that we shift our focus.  Instead of worrying about all of the details, focus on the simple things of God.  I like The Amplified translation that says:

 

For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].

 

 

These things are simple, but they require effort to focus on them.   We move through life without noticing how the sun illumines the vivid fall leaf.  We forget to smile at people walking on the street.  We miss the essence of life.  By shifting our focus, we allow God to reveal God’s presence and power working among us.  Shifting our focus will result in a shift in our attitudes and a shift in how we view our problems. 

 

So, what happens when we cannot see for ourselves, when it all becomes too much?  We gather the pieces of community.  Sometimes it seems as if our prayers only make it to the ceiling and that our eyes can no longer focus.  Yet, do not lose heart because that is why we are called into community.  It is in community that we help to gather the pieces for one another.  It is with our brothers and sisters that we are able to see God.  It is in the pieces of another that we see ourselves. 

 

On this Thanksgiving, we have come to commune, to celebrate and give thanks for God’s immeasurable blessings. There is so much going on, but remember that the Spirit and the peace of the Lord are here with us and inside of us.  Later in the letter Paul writes, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

 

Before you head home to feast, you are all invited to join this feast.  It doesn’t seem like much, but with our prayers, the simple pieces of bread, the gathered community and God’s presence it all makes sense.  It is in this Great Thanksgiving that we are able to understand the promise. It is at this table that the pieces of our lives come together in Jesus Christ.  It is here, with one another, that we are able, truly able to see and grasp the pieces of God’s peace. 

 

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