By Pat Russell
Considering the sermon by Wayne Otte, entitled "Giving Thanks," on November 29, 2020
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge — God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
As we continue to focus on living in the Kingdom of Heaven during this Advent season, in yesterday’s service we were given practical ways to live this out.
The first is in choosing HOPE over despair. I suggest that you might read the Candle of Hope Liturgy again today. Make your own Advent wreath with a circle of candles and light the candle of hope. Light that candle every evening this week. Then, if you have not gone to the Candle of Hope virtual gathering, spend some time with Brooke meditating on hope at this link.
Wayne gives us another beautiful way of living in the Kingdom of Heaven this Advent season – giving thanks for people. Giving thanks, especially for people in our lives will not only enrich their lives, and our lives, but the lives of the people all around us. “Thanks beget thanks.” Wayne pointed out that Paul expresses thanks over and over in his letters with people he knew were living in the Kingdom of Heaven, people who were the “underdogs” in the Roman world because they were followers on Jesus.
Then Wayne told us stories of people he knew at the Network Coffee House who we might say are the “underdogs” of our society, and yet they are living out thanks as they help serve others on the streets of Denver. Gary, the grump, who may look one way, but he really has a heart of service. Wazee, who “received” a condemning letter while he slept, and yet he was not that judged person in Wayne’s heart and in God’s heart. Wayne loved him and is thankful for who he was.
These are people giving thanks for others, handing out thanks in the way they live. Wayne is a living example of being thankful for others in the world of the Network Coffee House, of seeing Kingdom of Heaven hearts.
This, in my mind, begs the question, “For whom in my life do I give thanks? Who is someone that has blessed me quietly just because they are who they are? Who is someone who may be difficult, but I see their heart?” As a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth as it is in Heaven, I will choose to walk with hope and thanksgiving for others this Advent Season. In this way, as Wayne points out, the Kingdom of Heaven spreads. Amen.