This Week’s Sermon Transcript


Deepening Thankfulness                      Ephesians 1:15-23                            November 22, 2020

Now that the leaves are off the trees, it is easy to see the buds already in place for another year. The ends of the branches, especially where they have been cut back or pruned are readying for newness to come and in its season for growth. The rhododendron has huge buds that will flower early on and the azalea is covered with tiny buds for spring. They are both tucked close to the house and will have a surround of burlap in hope that they will make it through the dark and cold of winter. The cedars pruned just enough to keep them full to be a hiding place for the little birds who now visit the bird feeders near the windows. Watching them brings a certain perspective of our times, which do not seem to trouble them at all.   

Things are difficult in this pandemic time fueled with division, and in Walter Brueggemann’s words “dislocation.”  There is loss all around in our lives and in this Thanksgiving time. There is overwhelming grief, some we see, some we hear, but most we do not. It is everywhere, it is real and it needs to be seen and heard in a way that acknowledges and makes room for it in a meaningful way.  And part of that way is doing what we can do to keep each other safe and appreciate each other as having different needs to work out that safety.

We cannot gather as we wish but we gather as we must as God’s thankful people. It is the song, “Come ye thankful people come.”  And in some way, I see that in this time as needing to be thankful to God in a deeper way. The depth of thankfulness is prayer.

Our words this morning are written to the Ephesians and to us. They are words of thankfulness and of prayer, just what we need. The writer has heard of their faith in Jesus and their love for all people. And he remembers them in prayer asking for gift of spirit in wisdom and revelation that they may know God deeply to know the hope to which they are called. Called means, that hope is an obligation, it is the way we are to live. And it is of the spirit, mystery ever to which we respond in wonder, awe, worship and deepening prayer through it all.  

Christ’s lordship is central to our faith and leads to inclusive hope for all humanity in the world. This prayer is in the plural, not about you or me but us as a part of the whole community of church: the body of Christ. Christ’s lordship comes as all things are placed under his feet. Christ is the head. He gathers all things to himself for he is the incarnation, the life and obedience to death and then to life: redemption and affirmation. Christ gathers, restores, completes, fulfills, and perfects all things in his own humanity. Christ will restore back what God originally intended, a wholeness that ends division and dislocation through acts of human coming together. God’s saving work is not finished so neither is our task. We are called to hope: a gift of participating in God’s saving work. Christ and the church are inseparable. And the whole world is gathered in Christ.

We are thankful to be gathered into this way in the world. It makes for a deeper thankfulness of the One who calls and gathers and works through Christ the Lord of all. It becomes a global reality, a unity, no divisions in yet surrounded by divisiveness. It is inclusive: there is not anti-Semitism nor anti- Palestinian, it is multi- racial, O&A, diverse economic classes. It is truly that “In Christ There Is No East or West, No North or South.”

There is shared power in this prayer about the gift of our faith and what God does. And when it is with God and of God it is always filled with abundance, enough, there is no scarcity.  Vision is a common inheritance for all have it in Christ. May we be amazed and deeply thankful in God for God and know it is not about us but about God’s work ever in us that lives in hope.  

Remember those first pilgrims on Thanksgiving? They gathered together before the difficult winter and time to come in which they lost much and many died. Courage in thanksgiving is to move forward into the difficult times ahead, pruned to what God holds and does in and with us. For our deepest thanksgiving is prayer that prunes and trims us back into the Lord of All, who is over every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and all divisiveness and dislocation.  

The tree buds are trimmed and pruned to live in newness providing the place that holds life close and safe, a nesting place to move from into the world to be God’s and live God’s way in Christ for all the world amid whatever is there and true to the very Body of Christ the church of which he is the head. Our deep thankfulness is prayer, which prunes us to make us ready for the world and true to Christ for that world ever in all fullness in all ages. The body of Christ is compassion, caring, justice and inclusive hope ever and always in the world and for the world. Christ is Lord of that world, no matter what else is there. May we remember that in inclusive hope ever with a deepening thankfulness of life-giving prayer echoed by birdsong that has that inclusive perspective ever. Amen.