In his letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul describes the church as those whose worship and life together are informed by their gratitude in response to God who “has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:3). He spends the introduction of his letter reminding them of God’s love in Jesus for them in which they have received redemption, forgiveness of sins, knowledge of His will, and hope for all things to be set right in Him (Ephesians 1:3-10). He gives thanks to God for their faith and love toward each other, and prays that they might know His immeasurable love more fully and be filled with the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:18-19).
Being so filled, Paul calls his audience to live a new life because of the love of God in Christ (Ephesians 4:22-24, 32-5:1). As their act of praise and thanksgiving, the church is called to become imitators of God, living in love just as Christ loved them. Entirely out of place is any kind of vulgar talk, impurity, or greed but instead, Paul calls his audience to thanksgiving (Ephesians 3:3-5). Rather than being intoxicated with wine or other kinds of debauchery, Paul compels his hearers to be filled with the spirit as they “[give] thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, for such is the will of God (Ephesians 5:17-20).
In Luke 17, Jesus heals ten lepers as they obey him and go to show themselves to the priests. One leper turns back in praise and falls at the feet of Jesus thanking Him for His great mercy. Jesus inquires of this Samaritan, “Were not ten made clean?... Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Like the church in Ephesus and the healed lepers, we are called to follow Christ in living and worshipping from gratitude, not mere compliance. Paul exhorts us to conform our worship, ethics, and most especially our lives with each other to the new life wrought in Christ because he “gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:2). In so doing, we bear witness in thanksgiving to the “immeasurable greatness of His power for us who believe” (Ephesians 1:19).
The church’s native tongue is thanksgiving, in its praise and its life together. The church is the communion of those who have had the eyes of their heart enlightened to the hope into which they are called, and in response live a life of gratitude to God together. May this Thanksgiving Day those who have been adopted as children through Jesus Christ be distinct in their gratitude, as those whose lips cannot help but give thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.