Thanksgiving will be here tomorrow. For many of us it will be a day to gather with extended family and friends. Some of our members who stopped by to shake hands with me after the sermon on Sunday mentioned that they were apprehensive about Thanksgiving. They went on to say that their celebration will include folks with very diverse opinions -- particularly when it comes to politics. They were concerned about how they would navigate the potentially controversial minefields.
Knowing what to say, what not to say, and how to say it is a real challenge. It often requires our most advanced humility, self-control, and courage. Knowing when to listen without simply thinking about our next response is hard. It takes discipline. Deciding when it is worth it to speak up, or when it is better simply to let something go, requires maturity on our part. Yet, having the courage to speak up when it feels needed, not necessarily for our own benefit, but for some greater good - that also has its place. Choosing our battles is not only something we struggle with as parents, it is something we all face from time to time in other contexts.
Paul's letter to the Ephesians says to "speak the truth in love." (4:15, NIV) That is not always easy to do. We often want to blast someone with "the truth" (at least as we see it), but rarely does that accomplish anything more than allowing us to vent. Speaking the truth in love demands much more of us. It requires us to care deeply for the person to whom we are speaking.
Some of the best guidelines for times of disagreement were created by the P.C.U.S.A. I have shared them from time to time in various settings. Below is a link to them. They may help you find other ways to prepare for what may be some challenging conversations this Thanksgiving. While they were created mainly for disagreements in church governing bodies, there are many insights here which I believe will help you experience a happier Thanksgiving!
Click here for guidelines.
Prayer for Today
Gracious God, we give you thanks for all of the blessings in our lives. As we prepare for times of family, fellowship, and feasting -- may the Spirit of Christ shape how we speak and listen to one another. We pray this in the strong name of Jesus the Christ. Amen.