One thing that can suck the thanksgiving out of your life is fear and worry. One of the remarkable features of the Pauline Epistles is their tone. Paul is so upbeat! Didn’t anyone tell him that he was in chains? You can imagine the fear and worry when Epaphras, the pastor of the congregation in Colosse showed up at his prison cell in Rome after a very long journey with reports of the various problems that he was facing. How can Paul be so upbeat? It’s the hope that he has in Jesus.
Hope has been watered down these days to a mere whimsical wish that most likely won’t come true. Imagine that you have a thawed turkey sitting in the fridge. You have two alarms set to make sure you don’t miss the 5 AM deadline to get Tom the Turkey into the oven in time for the noon feast. If you accomplish all of that, there will be a golden crispy turkey as the center of a magnificent meal. What self respecting chef heads off to bed on Thanksgiving Eve saying, “I hope it all turns out alright.” NO! You know it will work. You planned the work. Now work the plan. The term for hope in the Greek is basically layaway. It’s already purchased and it will be ready for pick up in the near future.
Paul had it even better than that! Jesus had come and accomplished our forgiveness. There was no plan to work. The work was done when Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” The world stood redeemed as Paul sat in chains. Paul’s legal status didn’t matter much because his soul was free and his card for heaven was punched! The hope that Paul had spilled over into his letter to the Colossians. May that hope fill your Thanksgiving celebration too.