The heading for this morning’s scripture reading from the New Revised Standard Translation of the Bible is “Marks of a True Christian”.
Take a moment and think again about what you heard – what are those marks.
Celebrate and Grieve with one another
Do good, even to your enemies
These are all relational. They either speak of how we relate to God or one another. Notice not one of them speaks of our status in the world, what we do, what we own, who we know.
Instead they all speak to how we act in the world no matter who we are and no matter who we interact with. The marks of a true Christian lay out a universal template for how we are supposed to behave.
I want to share a video featuring Pastor Ron Lewis of Spring Road Christian Church in Alabama.
Did you hear the part where he talked about shifting our focus from the provisions of God to the presence of God?
How do we experience the presence of God? We can experience the presence of God when we listen to the people seated at the table – when we focus on the Guest List.
So, what are the keys to being a good listener. Likely you’ve heard this before, but it’s always good to review. When we engage a conversation as a true listener – we are listening to understand – not to respond.
Everyone who gathers around your table at Thanksgiving or any other meal for that matter – provides us with a chance to better understand God.
What happens when you approach conversations from that point of view – how might your thoughts change? How might your body language change? How might your hopes for the outcome change?
Listening to understand means responding with wonder. Responding with questions that help you better understand. Responding with questions that check your understanding. Refrain from judgment or advice. From jumping in with your own stories or discounting feelings.
Thanksgiving is not a religious holiday per se which perhaps makes it all that much more powerful. We are called to live from our Christian identity in everything we do – not just at Christmas and Easter. Not just when we are in church on Sunday. But in everything that we do. We are to bring through the true marks of being a Christian.
And so this Thanksgiving – my prayer for all of us is that as we gather around the table, we listen to understand. That we give thanks for the diversity of the God’s beloved children. And that we experience God in new ways that expand our hearts and our capacity for love. May God bless us on this journey. Amen.