Summary: SUNDAY BEFORE THANKSGIVING, YEAR C - It’s time to give THANKS for all of God’s GIVING.
There is an old story told about a far-off land which was ruled by a tyrant. The tyrant had an iron-clad grip over all parts of his kingdom, except for one frustrating area. He was unable to destroy the people’s belief in God. He summoned his counselors and put the question to them: "Where can I hide God so that the people will end up forgetting him?" One counselor suggested that God be hidden on the dark side of the moon. This proposal was debated for some time, but voted down because it was believed that one day scientists would discover a means of space travel and God would end up being found again. Another advisor to the tyrant came up with idea of burying God beneath the depths of the ocean floor. But this idea was voted down for the same basic reasons as the first. Finally the oldest and wisest of the counselors had a flash of insight. "I know", he said, "why don’t we hide God where no one will ever think of finding him?" He explained, "If we hide God in the ordinary events of people’s everyday lives they’ll never find him." And so it was done - and they say that people are still looking for God even today. With all that taking place in our lives and our nation, Thanksgiving is a good time for us all to stop and remember all that God has done for us and all that He has given us. This is also Stewardship Sunday the time of year when we all consider what we will do for God’s church and what we will give to support her. We do this so that we will not miss the God that is hidden in the ordinary events of our everyday lives. We gather here this morning during this season of thanksgiving to give our thanks to the God who keeps on giving and giving and giving. Indeed with all that we have faced since September 11th, this Thanksgiving Sunday helps to encourage us to pause and to identify just how blessed we are with God’s goodness, just how much we are recipients of God’s grace. And that’s good because it leads us into the transforming wonder of thanksgiving. Thanksgiving as a way of living. Thanksgiving as an act of faith. Thanks - Filled - Giving, like a spring of living water bubbling up from within our souls. This call to give thanks is a necessary attitude, if we are to experience the fullness of the grace filled life that God has planned for us.
In the 26th chapter of Deuteronomy the people of Israel are told what they should say when they bring their offerings to the temple. They are to say: "The Lord brought us into this place, and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. So now I bring the first fruit of the ground, which you, O God, have given me." The Lord has brought us into this place, and the Lord has given us the fruit of the earth in this place. He has given us our daily bread, and He has brought us safe to this point in time. This is the message of all scripture - that everything around us, and everything that we are and everything that we have is a gift from God. All of this is given to us by our heavenly Father to open our hearts to make us receptive that we might be open to His greatest gift of all, the gift of His son. The apostle Paul reminds us in Colossians 2:16-17 that all the blessings that we have received in our lives are merely a shadow of the things that are to come. That the basis for all that we receive in the here and now, is found in Jesus Christ. A long time ago God set out to bring healing and redemption to a broken and fallen world. He started by calling a man named Abraham, to go to a land that God would give him and through Abraham’s offspring God would raise up a people willing to walk in God’s way. But God knew that this would not be enough So he called forth another man named Moses to instruct his people God’s divine Word and Law that they might know how to live in God’s new land of promise. But still God knew that this would not be enough. So God appointed prophets from among His people to instruct them in the ways that they had gone astray and to call them to return to the ways of God. But even then God knew that this would not be enough. So God raised up a king and established a temple wherein God’s people might worship their creator and practice God’s ways in sacrament and praise. But as it had been in the past the people forgot what God had done, and so God knew that even this would not be enough. So God sent forth His only Son into our fallen world that He might become the door to heaven. That through the Christ man might finally learn that God was with us. But even in sending His only begotten son God knew that this would not be enough. So God poured out His Spirit on Pentecost upon all who placed their faith in the Son that they might receive God’s power to live as children of God. That through the Son’s Spirit we might experience just a taste of what is still to come. And God has promised all who have believe in the Son that one day the Christ will return for us that he might bring us to live with Him in Heaven were we will finally see our Creator face to face and in that moment we will be transformed into His image. Then and only then it will be enough. There once was a woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and given three months to live. So, as she was getting her things "in order," she contacted her Pastor and had him come to her house to talk about her final wishes. After discussing her funeral service she said excitedly,