Main Text: Colossians 1:11-20 (Jeremiah 23:1-6; Luke 23:33-43)
This week we celebrate Thanksgiving in this country. It is a holiday in which we give thanks for all the gifts. Giving thanks is an important exercise, but what is the focus upon? In the practice of giving thanks for all the gifts, our focus is on the gifts themselves. We are God’s great offering to the world. It is God who imbues all gifts including us with our identity and purpose. When we over identify with the gifts, we can begin to think that our deepest need is to protect and preserve what we have. This is what happened to the leaders (shepherds) spoken of in Jeremiah. Rather than leading the nation to be a light and example to all nations of how-to live-in relationship to this God who so generously gives to us, they began to seek their own power and might to preserve what they have. The gifts of God were no longer used for the people of God and the people of God were no longer a light to the world of how things could be. Yet, this God who gives us all things still promises to give more. God truly modeled thanksgiving, when God sent his own son. Paul says in his letter to the Colossians that all things (gifts) fit together in Christ. In Christ they find their identity and purpose. When Christ is first in our lives, we also find our identity and purpose for being. The story of the crucifixion in Luke’s Gospel has them calling him a King. In reality, Jesus stood in contrast to all Kings who came before him. All other Kings were motivated by self-interest. Christ the King sought only to serve, and model God’s identity and purpose intended for us all. Now, by faith we are invited to do more than give thanks for the gifts we have. We are invited to offer all that we are to God joyfully in thanksgiving. When we do, we discover who we really are and why we exist.