Summary: A Thanksgiving Sermon for Series B lectionary, indicating that through the power of God’s Spirit, we are able to be truly thankful
Thanksgiving Eve, November22,2006 “Series B”
Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, we come before you this night to give thanks for your many blessings upon us – for the gift of life, for all that sustains us from day to day, and especially for the gift of redemption which we receive through our baptism and faith in Christ’s death and resurrection. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, inspire us to show our thankfulness in the way that we care for those among us, especially those in need. This we ask in Christ’s holy name. Amen.
Tonight, we, as Christians, have come together on the eve of our national holiday of Thanksgiving, to worship God – to listen to his word, to receive his redeeming grace through the sacrament of communion, and to lift our voices in praise for all that God has given us. It just seems like a natural thing for people of faith to do, in observance of the significance of this holiday.
But is it such a natural a thing for us human beings to do – to listen to and truly hear the word of God for our lives? Throughout my life-long study of God’s word, especially the teachings of Jesus, I have discovered it to be anything but natural for me to absorb. And our Gospel lesson that has been appointed for this day, is no exception. Listen to what Jesus says: “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”
Now, let’s be honest. I would really be surprised if those who are responsible for the task of preparing tomorrow’s Thanksgiving dinner, haven’t worried, just a little bit, about what you will eat, and what you will drink, and how it will turn out. It would only seem natural to me, if I were responsible for hosting such a feast, to worry a little about the meal, and prepare in advance for the celebration.
Of course, I may not worry about what clothes I will wear tomorrow. When I emerge from the bedroom, and my dress doesn’t suit Josie, I’ll hear something to the effect, “You’re not going to wear that, are you?” And she will send me back to the bedroom to change. But then, I am leaving for camp Friday for a few days of hunting, and I have already spent some time making sure that I take the proper clothing for that venture. That only seems natural to me.
And on a deeper level, does it not seem natural, especially as we enter the last ten or so years of our careers, to begin to worry a little about our retirement, and plan more earnestly about how we will be able to eat and drink and clothe our bodies – as well as cover the rising cost of health care and utilities.
It is only natural to worry about these things – to plan and prepare for the future. But listen again to the words of Jesus: “Do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ …Indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Here again, if we take these words of Jesus to heart, we might be led to the natural conclusion that if we become a Christian, if we are baptized and devote our lives to studying God’s word and striving to live in faith, we won’t have to worry about food and drink and clothing and shelter, or anything else we need to sustain our lives. We’ll have everything we need, God will protect us, and our lives will be free of problems.
But you know, and I know, that this is not true. The rain falls on the just and the unjust, the faithful and the not so faithful. As Job’s friend points out to him, “Just as surely as sparks fly upward from a fire, so human beings will face troubles.” [Job 5:7] And I don’t know of a person in all of the Old Testament who remained faithful to God and strove for God’s righteousness, and yet experienced more troubles in life, than Job.
Thus, I would like to share with you a few thoughts that I have gleaned from a homily by Bass Mitchell, whom I believe points us in the direction of understanding these words of Jesus, especially as they relate to our celebration of Thanksgiving.