As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 13Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord* has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ* dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.* 17And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Thankfulness Then and Now
Reading the chosen passage above and contemplating on the message of thankfulness and on today’s date, March 4th, I cannot help but reflect on being thankful for the high school of my youth and on our church of the present.
My high school: March 4th was our annual Founder’s Day celebration at Roxbury Latin to commemorate the founding of the school in 1645 by the Rev John Eliot who had arrived in Boston a decade earlier among the English settlers. As a private, all boys’ school, there was considerable formality, including mandatory coats and ties, study of the classics, required sports and activities. Every morning we started the day by going to Hall assembly for the entire school of 200 plus faculty. The routine was the same. We would file in with our hymn books in our left hand and be seated by class. The Headmaster would go to the podium from his middle chair on stage and lead us in the Lord’s Prayer. He then invited us to rise to sing the chosen hymn of the day. Following a brief reflection and announcements, we were dismissed to our classes. This daily ritual was broken only on March 4th, Exelauno Day, (Exelauno, Greek verb to “march forth”), a celebration featuring Latin and Greek recitations required by all and prizes for each class. Through it all, there was a Judeo Christian culture of patience, humility and love that gave us a foundation of gratitude toward God.
At PVUMC I see much evidence of love and mutual support during this Lenten season. The recent Ash Wednesday service, the Bible study groups discussing 24 Hours that Changed the World, the sermon series on temptations and faith, the Gratitude Campaign and messages, and the ongoing outreach from Pastors Dave and our Ministry/staff team to “bind us together in perfect unity.” I see God’s work alive on our church campus when I see our greeters in the parking lot, the welcome center and church doors. I see it in the friendly smiles at the gift shop, Paradise Perk and the Wednesday Feast. I hear it in the voices of our Choir, adult and youth. I feel it in the warm handshakes and embraces at our 8, 9:30 and 11 am services. As I write this, church mission teams are mobilizing to take PVUMC and God’s work to faraway sites, “singing to God with gratitude in their hearts.” How proud and yet humble, and how grateful I am to be here, in this place, at this time.
Prayer: O God, help us to read scripture this Lenten season with extra care and self-examination. Help us to listen and hear what you are telling us. Fill our hearts with compassion, kindness and humility and guide our hearts with gratitude to the peace of Christ. Amen.