I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. 7 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
The Top Five things for which I am thankful fall into five broad categories. In reverse order of their importance they are…
# 5: Things I can taste, smell, touch, see, and hear.
# 4: Freedoms and blessings we enjoy in these United States of America
# 3: Family of believers – brothers and sisters in Christ
# 2: Family, wife, children, grandchildren, cousins, nieces and nephews
# 1: The goodness, love, and grace of God shown in Jesus Christ.
Today’s thanksgiving blessing: The Family of believers – brothers and sisters in Christ
I recall the moment with great clarity. The startled look on his face. The laughter of the congregation. The pointer flying across the chancel and landing right beside where I was sitting. It was a moment that I felt an incredible sense of love, belongingness, fellowship, and grace with the people of the church I was serving at the time. It was in the middle of a chancel drama when one of the actors let go of that pointer and it flew toward me. He was deeply worried that I’d been hit, or deeply worried that he had broken the fourth wall (definition below). But for me it was all about being part of the body of Christ in that place. I was one of them.
There are other times when that has happened to me: having elders gather around me and pray for me during a time of great anguish over a son; seeing members of the church I served at the time show up at the Children’s Hospital where we had sent our newborn son; having our house cleaned by a member of the church – uninvited and unannounced; hearing the congregation respond with applause to my announcement of a delay in my retirement date. Those are dramatic and singular. There are other times as well. Just seeing people lean into the mission of God in various ways, and loving and supporting one another within the church for the sake of those outside the church fills my heart with joy.
Paul makes it clear: “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27). He makes it clear, also, that we all have a part to play in the Body of Christ. “God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Corinthians 12:24-26).
I am thankful for my brothers and sisters in Christ. Some may require extra grace. Others may be called on to provide that extra grace to me. But what a blessing it is to know we’re all sisters and brothers in Christ. We don’t have to face life’s challenges alone. We should never withhold our praise at the joy of others. We may need to comfort others in their loss (a high privilege). We might need comfort from others in our times of sorrow. And whenever we simply enjoy each others’ company and companionship, a meal, a moment of fun, or the shoulder-to-shoulder blessing of working together on a project, we are experiencing a foretaste of the feast to come. We will then stand shoulder-to-shoulder in praise of the Lamb, enjoy a “feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined” (Isaiah 25:6), and the fullness of perfect love between one another as the redeemed of God.
All this because Christ has redeemed us all, and God has put his name on us in our baptism, and we are brothers and sisters in Christ.
I’m thankful for that. How about you?
The Fourth Wall
The fourth wall is an imaginary wall that separates the story from the real world. This term comes from the theatre, where the three surrounding walls enclose the stage while an invisible “4th wall” is left out for the sake of the viewer. The 4th wall is the screen we’re watching. We treat this wall like a one-way mirror. The audience can see and comprehend the story, but the story cannot comprehend the existence of the audience.
If you break that wall, you break that accord. This is called “Breaking The 4th Wall.” It can also be described as the story becoming aware of itself. – studiobinder.com