Dear Beloved Friends,
Thanksgiving 2020 may feel as different as a Zoom wedding. 2020 has brought our family together with a Zoom funeral for Connie’s father, two virtual graduations, and our son’s wonderful live-streamed wedding. We are thankful for technology that can link us in times of deepest joy and loss. Like many of you, Connie and I shared tears with loved one as we scaled back our Thanksgiving feast. These are hard times. We may not easily stumble into thankfulness this year. We might all pour a glass for an absent Elijah and others we hope can eat with us soon. Thankfulness may require intentional prayer and actively reaching out to those whom we long to see in person or others who may be alone. What grace might flow if each of us called one extra person to wish them a Happy Thanksgiving?
From inside prison the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Colossae, “Keep on praying and guard your prayers with thanksgiving. Pray for us also. Pray that God would open a door for the word so we can preach Christ—which is why I’m in chains.” (Colossians 4) Did Paul long for a literal prison door to swing open? Paul’s letter names the struggles of separation, “I want you to know how much I struggle for you… I pray that your hearts will be encouraged and you will be united together in love through the rich assurance of knowing Christ. …(and know this) even though I am absent physically, I’m with you in spirit.” (Colossians 2)
Though apart, we are together; love binds us together. We should make space in our souls for grief. Jesus wept over the looming cross and the loss of Lazarus. Paul asks his friends to “remember my chains.” We Purdues may cry as we miss Grandpop’s good humor. Our tears run down as sacred memorials to those whose memories stir within us; tears connect us again. Our longing to hold each other reminds us of our shared love. Cry. Name it. Pray. Shout out. Forgive. Remember. Light a candle. Write down a memory. Pick up the phone. And hear the Good News that even in nakedness, peril, pandemic, or prison, we are not separated: “Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8) Call a neighbor, widow, or single person and wish them a Happy Thanksgiving. Text someone one thing about them for which you are thankful. Write down a treasured memory. Take a walk and look for beauty. Look around your room to make a list beginning with the smallest comfort you notice. And know we will get through this, for even though we are apart physically, we are with each other in spirit.
With love and thanksgiving for you, my beloved family in Christ,