Whatever you do, in word or deed, do it all in the name of Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God through him. (Colossians 3:17)
Every time that we commission, ordain or install someone, we lift up this passage as an essential charge of the community of disciples. It has two parts.
The second half of the verse speaks of giving thanks to God for and in all things. Not always an easy task, given that some parts of life are really just, frankly, difficult. When life is good, it is easy to say thank you – though many times we become complacent in our comfort and forget. However, when life gets tough, the task gets harder. Even if we cannot and should not give thanks for the situation in which we find ourselves, we can give thanks for the promises of God: that God loves us and will never, ever leave us.
If the second half of the verse is the mantra, or a centering practice, then the first half speaks to how we are to live our everyday lives. All parts of our life should be effected by our faith, because Christianity is about an ethic of living. Many of our brethren believe that we must follow a strict moral code to follow God. Yet Jesus did not suggest that or require it. Instead, he summarized the law – in one word, love – and commanded all to find more and better ways to follow it. That is how we are to live, in all things.
As we look towards Thanksgiving next week, it is often a time of rejoicing. It is an opportunity to grow relationships with those close to us. But it is also a chance for us to be creative about ways we can love those who are not as close and who are different. How we follow Christ more nearly determines whether or not our faith is growing.
So love. One wise preacher suggested, “it’s just that simple and it’s just that hard.” And in all things give thanks – for your blessings, for your loved ones, for the God who loves you.