Summary: Reflecting on mission and our attitude of giving ourselves in thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving message 2002 - Mission 101
The thanksgiving tradition came about through this ancient declaration given with the Pilgrims who came to North America for a better life:
"Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.
"Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three and the third year since ye pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings."
A young woman brought her fiancé home to meet her parents for thanksgiving dinner. After dinner, her mother told her father to find out about the young man. The father invited the fiancé to his study for a talk.
"So what are your plans?" the father asked the young man. "I am a biblical scholar," he replied. "A Biblical scholar. Hmmm," the father said. "Admirable, but what will you do to provide a nice house for my daughter to live in?" "I will study," the young man replied, "and God will provide for us."
"And how will you buy her a beautiful engagement ring, such as she deserves?" asked the father. "I will concentrate on my studies," the young man replied, "God will provide for us."
"And children?" asked the father. "How will you support children?" "Don’t worry, sir, God will provide," replied the fiancé.
The conversation proceeded like this, and each time the father questioned, the young idealist insisted that God would provide. Later, the mother asked, "How did it go, Honey?" The father answered, "He has no job and no plans, and he thinks I’m God!"
It’s thanksgiving Sunday and I am very thankful today not only because God has provided the harvest, food on the table, or the greatest job, or a church family like this. I’m thankful today because Jesus thinks He is God, and that He has a job and a plan for us all.
Yes, I am thankful; that there is purpose to life beyond just eating drinking and going to work or school. I am so thankful that Jesus has a job that is, to bring home people like u and me, that is His mission - 18For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. 1 Peter 3:18. I love that! His job is to bring us to God, safe and sound. This is his mission… And He has a plan for us that is similar. That is why Jesus told those 3 stories in Lk.15.
Jesus also said in John 20: 21Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." 22And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." He wants His followers to be involved with Him in His mission. And it’s very specific to tell – forgiveness through Him. Not telling will withhold the blessing of forgiveness. I am thankful God send others to tell me. So today I can tell you – you can have your sin forgiven! I thank God He did not give up on me and you but gave us the grace of being free from guilty feelings and getting rid of our shame. And as an expression of thanks this thanksgiving, be like Christ - in not giving up on the world, our lost friends, … Let’s get beyond keeping the rules, which makes religion nice and tidy, which got the opponents of Christ into such a hissy fit. Let’s get into the joy of God who graces us with a joyful welcome home. Let’s throw out the welcome mat, give the royal treatment, let’s bring others to know God’s heart. U know something else He did not leave us helpless and alone to do this, He gave us His Spirit to live in us, “receive the Holy Spirit…” to carry out His mission. Basic thing we got to know: he is sending us all on this mission!
That is why it frustrates Jesus to no end when people throws all sorts of roadblocks and get all bent out of shape complaining about the job He did and the plans He has for the world. His plan is to come to save us and not to give us our just desserts, for what we deserve as failures in life is complete and utter banishment from God and everlasting punishment for the crimes we have committed (Jn.3:16-17). What we deserve is the eject seat for us rejects, instead what we got now is the hedonistic welcome and enjoyment of God’s pure joy and a reserved house of dreams in heaven, a place we can call home forever.