Today we celebrate The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the church calendar. The gospel reading from Luke which details the events that transpire between Mary, Elizabeth, Jesus and John is the assigned gospel text. However, it is the text for the Epistle that has caught my imagination for today. The text is Colossians 3:12-17.
The author conveys instructions for how to live, “as God’s chosen ones.” The instructions could easily be divided into two parts in the text with the hinge between the two being this three word sentence in the middle of the pericope: “And be thankful.”
Thankfulness is not something that comes easily or automatically for many. I say that in the context of our society and culture where there are many, many things that perhaps we simply take for granted, or that we expect will happen for us automatically…or that will not be a struggle to obtain, make happen, etc. Car starting, food in the refrigerator, the central air kicking on because it is hot outside, the list could go on and on.
Being thankful for things that we simply take for granted or for the small victories and accomplishments that we have throughout the course of our day takes some practice. That level of thankfulness starts with a simple awareness of what we should be thankful for in the first place. We need to open our eyes and hearts to see and hear and feel those small, perhaps even insignificant events that occur over the course of our day, our week, our life.
This reading from Colossians is also the reading that the couple who will be married on Saturday at St. Alban’s have chosen as one of their readings for their ceremony. Lauren and Patrick are starting a new life together and it is my prayer for them (and for us) that we are on the lookout with freshly focused eyes, we are feeling with open hearts ready to receive and recognize the gift of love from God, those moments, those events, those little things which show us that we are truly loved by God. For Lauren and Patrick that gift from God is the gift of the other for whom they can be truly thankful.
What are the gifts from God both big and small that you have received, and for which you can be thankful today? What are the small and maybe even seemingly minute moments in your life for which you are thankful?
What would happen if every day we actively looked and expected to find people, situations, events, outcomes, encounters, conversations, interactions…all of the bits and pieces that make up our day…and saw them each as an opportunity to be thankful to God? What if we viewed those collections of events, outcomes, encounters and all the rest as gifts from the God who loves us?
I think we would find that as we were thankful for all of those gifts that God has given, that our relationship with God, with those whom we love, and even those whom we have a difficult time loving (maybe even simply appreciating) would shift and change. Slowly we could start to live a life of thankfulness to God who gives us these gifts out of God’s love for us.
In Christ’s Holy Name,