But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. (I Thessalonians 5:5-9)
This week many of us will be gathered with our families of birth or our families of choice to observe Thanksgiving. It is a holiday that brings us together to feast with those who are not like us and with whom we may have profound differences. After all, we don’t get to choose our relations. For some of us we may be filled with anticipation, for others of us, we may feel dread.
How to cope with either feeling? It is tempting in moments of celebration and at times of anxiety to numb the feelings by taking a substance. We may drink too much alcohol, consume too many recreational drugs, load up on sugar. We lose our sobriety. In those states we may say or do things that we will later regret.
In Sunday’s Epistle, Paul writes to the congregation in Thessalonica, this is the first letter. He addresses many topics, but one that particularly concerns this church is the second coming of Jesus and what has happened to those who have died before Jesus has come again. What should they expect when the end of the world is at hand? What should they do?
Paul invites them to be sober and awake. They should ground their actions and responses to others in faith, love and hope.
As those in recovery know, sobriety is more than abstinence from consuming harmful substances or engaging in destructive behavior like gambling or lust. Sobriety means turning toward a higher power and practicing service to others. Faith, love and hope are the fertilizer of sobriety.
When we sit down with our Thanksgiving company, focus on your sobriety. You may be awake to new dimensions of yourself and your companions.
-The Reverend Lisa Hunt, Rector