Summary: A Thanksgiving sermon
Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow
November 20, 2005
When the island of Cyprus was under British control, one of the governors exchanged telegrams with his father at the height of one of their political crises. The governor was asking advice for some difficult matter. His father, a member of the English Parliament and a Methodist lay preacher, cabled him back. “See II Corinthians chapter 4, verses eight and nine. Pit and Rock. Love, Dad.”
His son cabled him back. “See Romans, chapter five, verses three and four. Pit and Rock. Love, Mac.
II Corinthians 4:8-9 reads: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”
Romans 5:3-4 reads: “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
The Pit and Rock reference is to Isaiah 51:1: “Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the pit from which you were hewn.”
John Klingaman, my great-grandfather was born and raised around Bristol, Indiana. With the coming of the Civil war, he joined the 88th Indiana Volunteers and saw action in some of the fiercest battles of that conflict. I have a copy of his journal that he kept during the war and it is a fascinating look at the times and the struggles.
My sister has done some genealogical research and traced our family back four hundred years to Europe…Germany, England, and Scotland. When I was in Shipshewana, I started telling some of those stories. One of my ancestors was Abraham Schrock, a descendant of one of a pair of Amish brothers who fled Germany to avoid military service, and to find a new life in the New World.
A woman in the church in Shipshewana was doing some research of her own into her family tree and noticed that some of the names in their tree sounded similar to the names in mine.
Some of the Amish folks around town were telling stories about the father of John Klingaman who was captured by Indians in Pennsylvania when he was 8 years old and lived with them until he escaped when he was 21.
When I began to put all of this together, I remember feeling like I had come home. I had a truly ecumenical experience when I discovered that there are some Amish folks in LaGrange County who share the same roots as I have.
I have a picture of John Klingaman at home on the mantle above our fireplace. He is fiercely dressed in his army uniform; musket at his side, knife stuck in his belt, and full beard to cover wounds he received in battle. Next to his picture is one of my great-grandmother. They were married when he was 60 years and she was just twenty, and so she lived well into the twentieth century.
When I look at their pictures, I realize that they are part of a family which is responsible for my being in front of you today. They passed their faith down through the generations to sons and daughters and finally to me. Each of those generations has understood that the rock out of which they were hewn was the source of their strength. That Rock of Ages is almighty God.
So here we are to celebrate Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is the only holiday we have anymore that hasn’t been taken over by crass consumerism. Just about the only person who makes a profit is the turkey salesman.
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to come together with family and friends to count our blessings and give thanks to God for all the goodness we have experienced. Somehow, this year is different. Ephesians 5:19-20 says: “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
If ever there was a year in which it is difficult to give thanks, it is this year. The threat of terrorism still remains an ever constant companion. Our nation’s son and daughters are in foreign lands and their blood is being spilled for their service to our country. The Gulf Coast continues, and will continue for quite sometime, to clean up following two devastating hurricanes this fall. Gas prices have skyrocketed giving us all plenty of things to worry about. We don’t yet know what that will do to our economy.
This morning, we come together as a community, as brothers and sisters in Christ. We come together to give thanks. Somehow, it seems like a disconnect. We sing the doxology here. “Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise him all creatures here below. Praise him above ye heavenly host. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”