Sermons

Summary: To help disciples start the practice of blessing God all the time.

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[S] It’s started. It’s happening. The Holiday season is upon us. And just like every year we hope that this year’s experience will be the best one yet. We want a great Thanksgiving experience. We want a Thanksgiving or a Christmas that will be memorable for all the right reasons. Knowing this, retailers and magazines and journals are out in full force to help us fulfill our desire to have a better holiday experience because they know we will “eat it up”. Listen to some of the article titles in the popular magazines: “A Fest to Remember”. “25 Ways to Simplify the Season.” “Make Thanksgiving Special.” “Quick and easy ways to spicen up your holiday party.” “Eat, Drink and Stay Slim: Learn how to enjoy your seasonal favorites without gaining weight.” My favorite however was the article titled “Fend off Holiday Tension” followed by the article “CPR made simpler.”

Each of these magazines want you to believe that you can have a better holiday experience if you’ll just follow their advice in their article. And to some degree you can. But their suggestions tend to be shallow and short lived. If you’d like to know the secret for having a more fulfilling, longer lasting and more meaningful Thanksgiving and Christmas season you’ll want to read the article co-authored by God and Moses. The secret for having a better Thanksgiving is found in Deuteronomy 8.10-18.

Before I read the scripture though, I want us to bless the Lord for giving us His word. “Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with his commandments and commanded us to engross ourselves with the words of Torah. Blessed is He.”

[S] “You shall eat your fill and bless the LORD your God for the good land that he has given you. Take care that you do not forget the LORD your God, by failing to keep his commandments, his ordinances, and his statues, which I am commanding you today. When you have eaten your fill and have built fine houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks have multiplied, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, then do not exalt yourself, forgetting the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, an arid wasteland with poisonous snakes and scorpions. He made water flow for you from flint rock, and fed you in the wilderness with manna that your ancestors did not know, to humble you and to test you, and in the end to do you good. Do not say to yourself, “MY power and the might of my own hand have gotten this wealth.” But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, so that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your ancestors, as he is doing today.” (NRSV)

“The word of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God.”

[S] The secret to having a better Thanksgiving and Christmas is the ancient practice of blessing God. I know, it seems a little odd. Blessing is typically God’s business. We ask God to bless us not the other way around. After all, who am I to bless God? As if God needs my blessing.

Let me assure each one of us that God doesn’t need our blessing. But that doesn’t mean we don’t bless God. The act of blessing God is an ancient practice instituted by the rabbis based on Deuteronomy 8 as a way to keep the people from forgetting how great God is. The practice of blessing God is a way of reminding ourselves of God’s care, love and provisions by saying short concise prayers throughout the day. It’s a way of acknowledging that God is the source of all good things. A blessing is that which glorifies God by acknowledging his greatness. Jewish commentaries like the Talmud have hundreds of such blessings to be used for every occasion one can think of. And then some.

For example upon waking up in the morning one would say, “Blessed art Thou, O Lord God, King of the Universe, You have returned within me my soul with compassion; [how] abundant is Your faithfulness!" After surviving an illness or some form of danger one would say, “"Blessed are You, LORD, our God, King of the Universe, Who bestows good things on the unworthy, and has bestowed on me every goodness." Or when seeing some significant natural phenomena like an earthquake comet, the sun, the moon, a large mountain or river one would say, “Blessed art thou, O Lord God, King of the Universe, who does the work of creation.”

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