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There’s a way to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner twice. No, I’m not referring to eating a turkey sandwich in the evening after the football games are over, though that is a fine tradition. And no, I’m not thinking of the leftovers that continue to gratify for days after the official holiday concludes. Rather, I’m thinking about how gratitude can enrich our experience of good things, like those things that fill our Thanksgiving tables.
Today is Monday, November 21. In three days, those of us who live in the United States will celebrate our national holiday of Thanksgiving. On this day, we convene with friends and family to offer thanks to God for personal and national blessings.
This election cycle has provided us with an opportunity to evaluate the questions of church identity and church functionality in this world. Will we remain divided because we would rather embrace silence instead of engaging in the hard work of unity? Is our political power and acceptance more important than the complete works of salvation, redemption, and restoration? Is silence the price of church membership and genuine acceptance for the marginalized, diverse, and discouraged?
Compassion is tricky. It behaves like an emotion — rising up within us without our willing it or wishing its arrival. Sometimes, the depth of our compassion toward others astounds even us. When we feel it, we’re often moved to action on behalf of someone else.
There is another dimension of the cross that we sometimes overlook on Good Friday. We see this dimension clearly in Ephesians 2:14-16, where the death of Christ on the cross brings reconciliation, not only between people and God, but also between alienated people groups.
I ended our last devotion by asking: Is there hope for families? Can families break out of the cycle of dysfunctionality and learn to relate in healthy, holy ways? I noted that I believe the answer to these questions is “yes.” But I would hasten to add that the road to health in our close relationships is not a level, straight one that is easy to travel. It’s more like driving on a turning, twisting mountain road. It takes time, patience, commitment, and, above all, God’s grace.
Yet, I recognized that some of us are not able to be with our own families, even during the holidays. In times like these, we can find comfort and joy as “members of the household of God” (Eph 2:19).
I want to share with you three different snapshots of the family of God at Christmas…
Today I wrap up a week of devotions on the theme of racial reconciliation. During this week, I have tried to help us see reconciliation from the broad perspective of Ephesians. The uniting of divided people groups is not incidental to God’s saving work but an essential element of what God has done through the cross of Christ and is doing through his church. Thus, as people called by God, we are to be both reconciled and reconciling.
Ephesians 4:1 urges us “to lead a life worthy of the calling to which [we] have been called.” What is this calling to be lived out in our daily lives? It is what the first three chapters of Ephesians have revealed about God’s plan and our crucial part in it…
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