Thank you so much” is the best way to start a letter or e-mail. Whether you are thanking the recipient for a gift, for their attention to your relationship, or for their action, it is a versatile response. I especially like to say “thank you so much” in response to letters of critique to write that I’m thankful for their obvious concern and look forward to engaging their concerns in the body of the message. It immediately frames the content in gratitude for the relationship the sender and receiver have to merit such a communication.
When we do good things, we feel like we should be the objects of praise; but we see in Paul’s letter to the Philippians that we are not the object. Paul says “I thank my God” whenever he thinks of the Philippians acting in charitable ways. He doesn’t say “thank you so much” to the Philippians—he says it to God for blessing him with coworkers and siblings in Christ.
Paul eagerly expresses his appreciation for the people in Philippi who “from the first day” have taken the gospel to heart. They have both received and given. Paul chooses to testify in defense of the gospel, calling God to bear witness to his longing for the Philippians. Christ who began a good work in them is the one who will see it to completion “by the day of Jesus Christ.” So, like the Philippians, we find ourselves living between “the first day” and “the day of Jesus Christ.”
Gratitude and appreciation are the ways of living that can transform a rigid framework. How might you live in gratitude today, and whose relationship could you transform by starting it with “thank you so much”?

Holy One, grant us the willingness to express our thankfulness to one another, even to those who are not friends. May our efforts be appreciated, not by one another but by you. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Luke 3:1-6

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Lectionary Week
December 3–9, 2018
Scripture Overview

The prophet Malachi speaks of a future day when God’s messenger will come to prepare the way for the Lord. The Lord will then purify the people and restore proper worship of God. Christians believe that John the Baptizer was this messenger, preparing the way for Christ. In Luke 1, the Holy Spirit fills Zechariah, John’s father, who proclaims that the fulfillment of God’s promises to their descendants has begun. Luke continues the story of John in chapter 3, describing John’s ministry of calling people to repentance. They need to prepare the way of the Lord in their own hearts, thus fulfilling Malachi’s prophecy. Paul in Philippians focuses not on the advent of Christ but on the ongoing power of Christ’s presence to make us blameless and righteous in God’s sight.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Malachi 3:1-4. How have you experienced the refiner’s fire? What was your experience?
• Read Luke 1:68-79. At home and work, are you usually the first touch, the second touch, or the third touch? How so?
• Read Philippians 1:3-11. How could you make expressing your gratitude to others a habit?
• Read Luke 3:1-6. How are you preparing the way of the Lord? What crooked paths are you helping to make straight?

Respond by posting a prayer.

I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

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