Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Party on!

First, I wish everyone a blessed thanksgiving! I hope that your holiday will be blessed with good food, good company, and lively fun. Yes fun! Whether you celebrate thanksgiving with your family, friends or even strangers I pray you have fun. This is not merely a good wish. This is health for your spirit and rest for your soul. Genuine thankfulness always leads to fun. If you give thanks in a dour or dreary way, are you really being thankful?

When Jesus preached his first sermon in his hometown, Luke tells us that he started from the following text from the prophet Isaiah:

The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor… Isaiah 61:1-2 NRSV

The most succinct sermon ever delivered simply said: "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." Luke 4:21 The plain meaning that the Messiah had arrived to bring the Good News to life is all that needed to be said. So it’s time to party!

The hoped for response sadly did not occur as people were not able to get the party started. Jesus, setting the example for his later teaching, would move on to the next town in Galilee to find some more lost souls to party with. Sadly I must confess that at times I have behaved more like those sticks in mud at Nazareth than a joyful disciple of Jesus. My sin turns me inward to worry too much about tomorrow rather than being thankful for what God has so richly blessed me with right now.

In his book “the Church in the Power of the Spirit” the German theologian J├╝rgen Moltmann makes the point that when we through the Holy Spirit meet the risen Jesus we join the party without end. This party is the celebration of the freedom from sin and death won for us at the Cross. Our earthly lives are then transformed by our anticipation of our attending Jesus’ unending party in the next life. Through Jesus we are always free to have a twinkle in the eye and cheerful voice.

For this reason I pray that Jesus be the center of your thanksgiving and you realize the joy that comes from knowing him. I also hope that his Spirit will be with you. The Bible reminds us that during his earthly ministry he rarely passed up a good meal, so invite him into your heart and home this thanksgiving. Then you too can party on!