Proper 27 texts at www.textweek.com
2 Thes. 2:1-5,13-17
But we must always give thanks for you… because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 2 Thes. 2:13-14
(This series on Thankfulness was timed around Election Day 2016. Three years later it feels just as important–if not more so–even as we head to the polls for state and local elections tomorrow. We still have far to go.)
As Election Day nears, Thanksgiving seems especially far off. And not just Thanksgiving the holiday, the day off from work and school, the day full of food, family, and football–but the act of thanks-giving. It’s hard to imagine giving thanks for anything amidst the baiting, debating, and hating that seems to characterize this season.
Instead, we set thankfulness aside like a child’s sweet but silly game, while we feast instead on anger and fear. We gather together all our troubles, and blame the other side for causing them. Then we armchair-QB our way through the political games, spiking the ball with every perceived score for our own team, all the while jeering at our opposition’s cheerleaders and mocking its mascot.
Maybe its just not possible to practice thanksgiving when we’re feeling shaken and alarmed (2 Thes. 2:2) by all that “They” say is wrong with the world. We can’t spare any energy for thankfulness when deceivers demand our attention (2:3), and even we may be inclined to give our exaltation to the one who claims to be able to save us (2:4).
The antidote to this poison is the same now as it was for the Christians at Thessalonica: brothers and sisters whose salvation is in the Spirit, not in heads of state, and who have the discernment to distinguish deception from truth. The community that lives so faithfully will produce a bounty of fruits! Faced with the deceiver’s horrorific headlines, they abide in the good news that the apostles proclaimed. Promised the greatness of a victorious nation, they seek only the glory of Christ. Instead of relying on the powers of a president, they lean on the love of God; and instead of dreaming of a comfortable living and infallible armies, they yearn for eternal comfort and strengthened hearts (2:16-17).
The antidote to the poison of lies and lawlessness is, and has always been, true thanksgiving. Thanksgiving comes when we recognize the Source of all we receive; no elected official can save us, comfort us, build up our hearts, shape us into communities, nourish us, and give us hope. A president’s promises may be optimistic (at best) or empty (at worst), but our Creator calls us to a full and fruitful life. We already have a Savior, a Comforter, and an eternal Hope who summons us to lives of abundance–not in what we possess, but in what we produce. Let us rejoice in this harvest, giving thanks to God until the day of the Lord comes at last.
First published 10/31/2016 on www.bwim.info/blog.