Devotional – Monday, November 16, 2020

Thankful When? Thankful How?

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. —Colossians 3:15

The year was 1965. Beverly and I were living here in Baton Rouge where I was completing requirements for my Master of Music degree at LSU. My thesis was a musical composition, Variazioni da Chiesa, which was scheduled for a public reading by the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra. The exposure, not to mention the opportunity to display my compositional talents, would be huge. Unfortunately I was given the incorrect time for the event. I was working at the time at Rosenfield’s on Government St. where I received a frantic call from my major professor, “Where are you?” I rushed to campus but by the time I arrived at the concert hall the orchestra had packed up and left. In a state of deep depression, even contemplating suicide, I sat on a bench in the Quad and wept. A fellow student whose name I will never forget, Darius Williams, found me, sat down beside me, and presented to me a life-saving gift. He had recorded the reading of my work, played it for me there on the bench and gave me the recording for my future use. I don’t know if Darius ever knew what that meant to me and how thankful I was, and still am, to him. I said “Thank you,” but how does one adequately express the depth of gratitude for a gift so precious?

As I read Paul’s letter to the Colossians, a letter written from prison, I am moved by Paul’s deep feelings of thanksgiving during what should have been one of the lowest points of his life. The warmth of his words, the sheer joy in his tone, as if he is almost laughing in thankful voice; I can relate. I’ve been there. So have many of you, I’m sure.

So it is that we come to this day of Thanksgiving in one of the worst years in recent memory: hurricanes after hurricanes, the murder of George Floyd, a bitterly contested election, COVID-19; how can we be thankful amid this mess?

How indeed? Again Paul reaches out to us across time with timeless encouragement. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to God.” (Colossians 3: 16) At our lowest points, God is always, always there with us; always has been – always will be. As the line from the old spiritual says, “How can I keep from singing?”

Grace and peace to all, and Happy Thanksgiving.  — Tip

Offered by Rev. Dr. Julius R. “Tip” Tipton

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