B'More Metro Let's Go Celebrate Thanksgiving
November 21, 2017
Thanksgiving Message from Baltimore Metropolitan District Superintendent
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 New International Version (NIV)
As a child in elementary school, I fell in love with words and how they are strung together to articulate thoughts. I recall how much I enjoyed dissecting sentences to discover how their structure can be used to convey meaning, and how parts of speech - verbs, nouns, and adjectives - work as a team to communicate ideas and experiences. As an adult and a person of faith, I have grown to appreciate even more deeply how our words, and God’s Word, can be unpacked, shared and lived to communicate truth and inspiration. Sometimes just one word can alter the meaning and impact of a text. This is particularly true with respect to prepositions. Indeed, a simple word like “but”, “and”, “of” or “in” can make all the difference in the meaning and substance of what we speak, hear, read. I have come to respect the power of a preposition!
In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, we find several strategically placed prepositions that I believe can inspire us this Thanksgiving. Paul reminds the church not to be anxious ABOUT anything. What are you anxious about these days? Is it our city’s murder rate that has exceeded 300, the political climate of vitriol and division, or the repeated uncovering of sexual scandals and misconduct? Is it financial issues in our churches, or racial division even among those of us who share the Christian faith? Is it the looming debate over how we love our neighbor when that neighbor holds views about gender identity that are different from our own. Perhaps you are anxious about a health issue, a relationship issue, or a family concern. Paul does not dismiss or deny anxiety as non-existent or unwarranted. Rather, he calls the people of God to be a non-anxious presence in a hyper-anxious world. This is possible through a couple of powerful prepositions: BY prayer and WITH thanksgiving.
Prayer keeps us connected to God. It is by prayer that we engage and acknowledge God’s presence, sovereignty, and involvement in our world. It is by prayer that we tell Jesus all about our troubles and listen as Christ guides, calls, and equips us to make a difference. BY is a preposition which gives us a vehicle for traveling on our Christian journey despite every reason to be anxious.
And it is WITH thanksgiving that we make our requests about these things known to God. Thanksgiving is not just a time of feasting, but it is a radical, hopeful, and death-defying alternative to anxiety and despair. Thanksgiving is a lifestyle and an attitude that accompanies (goes with) the life of a Christian just as turkey goes WITH stuffing. Thanksgiving isn’t just a side dish, it is the main course of the believer. Even as we make our requests known to God, we do so WITH thanksgiving already in our hearts.
And so it is BY prayer and WITH thanksgiving for our district, our city, our churches, our communities and our families that we approach the Thanksgiving holiday. We are well aware of the challenges we face. There is no shortage of reasons to be anxious, even discouraged and fearful, if we allow it. We know that there is great need and much for which to work and pray. But we can choose a different preposition and proposition. We can choose to be prayerful and thankful.
This season, I am particularly thankful for the opportunity to serve as your District Superintendent. I am grateful for the outpouring of love and support shown as we worshipped together for the installation service. I thank God for the great participation of our pastors in this fall’s district clergy meeting and for the laity involvement in the Bishop’s Day on the District. I offer thanksgiving for the churches that have hosted all of our district events and look forward to those that are ahead of us. I am grateful for our beautifully diverse Baltimore Washington Conference, our phenomenal episcopal leader, our cabinet, and staff who support our district with resources, expertise, leadership and prayer. I thank God for the hard work that has gone into our church conferences, but most of all that each congregation thus far has embraced the opportunity to celebrate what God is doing in our churches and communities.
A preposition is a powerful thing. It can turn an absolute into an opportunity, a negative into a positive, and isolation into collaboration. By prayer, with thanksgiving….BUT GOD!
Happy Thanksgiving Baltimore Metropolitan District. Let’s GO spread an attitude of gratitude, AND the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.