Summary: A thanksgiving sermon about living life in focus and highlighted from passages in the first part of Ephesians which we had been studying in a sermon series.

Thanksgiving Sunday 2001

Steve Simala Grant

I saw a commercial on TV last week - you are in an opera house, looking at the

stage The soprano is hovering over a dead body, singing in some foreign language, then

she takes out a knife and plunges it into her body and collapses. The camera switches to

the audience, who are sitting there, polite but obviously completely confused about what

has just happened. Switch back to the stage. A man in a normal business suit walks out,

looks at the scene, then says to the audience, "they were cousins. They could never

marry." At this 7 word explanation, everything became clear to the audience who erupt

in applause.

I had a couple of experiences the past two weeks that brought life into sharper

clarity for me. They brought me to a point of stepping back and looking at life and truly

appreciating all that God has done.

The first you might be familiar with if you received the thanksgiving letter from

the church I picked Joanne up from work last Friday, and she noticed that Thomas (our

lyr old) was laboring quite hard in his breathing. He’d had a cold all week, and we

decided that this wheezing was bad enough that maybe we should take him to a doctor

just to be on the safe side. After waiting a couple hours in a medicenter, we finally saw a

doctor who told us to take him to Emergency - she diagnosed a viral infection in

Thomas’ lungs and said we should get him to the hospital immediately. I don’t recall

much of the trip or those first few minutes in the ER - the thoughts and worries and fears

raced through my mind. I felt helpless and guilty and overwhelmed. I was managing

alright until Joanne voiced our greatest fear to the doctor: "Is he going to be ok?" The

doctor’s reply was quick and positive, but I know my heart stopped and time stood still

for the brief moment between the question and assurance us that yes, he would be fine.

They were able to treat him and get his oxygen stabilized, they sent us home, and he is

doing better today.

The second experience happened this week. Alan Vail is a member of our

congregation who has been ill for quite some time. He was taken to hospital this past

week with a reoccurance of pnemonia. The doctors were unsure whether Alan would

recover this time. I visited him Wednesday morning, and though communication was

hard I was able to ask him a couple of questions. The first was "are you scared?" His

eyes popped open and he shook his head from side to side - "no." The second was

whether he was ready if God should decide that now is the time for him to die. Again his

eyes popped open, and this time he nodded - "yes." And I sensed a great deal of peace in


Both of those experiences led me to take a big step back. To pause. To look at

life from a different perspective. To see the things that are important in life, the many

things that God has blessed us with, and to be thankful for them. There is something

about being in the ER with your son and at the bedside of a man who may be dying that

makes the crashed computer, the slow traffic, the annoying neighbor or coworker, that

makes all those things suddenly less important.

So what is it that we have to be thankful for? I want to pause here and give us the

chance together to rehearse some of God’s goodness to us - it is kind of a corporate

prayer time. Let’s focus on thanksgiving, but also if there are items of concern let’s pray

about those also.

It is incredibly appropriate that we celebrate the Lord’s supper together on a

thanksgiving Sunday, for by far the greatest gift we have is the gift of our salvation,

which Christ earned for us on the cross. Perhaps as you come here this morning you

wonder what there is in life to be thankful for - perhaps as you look around you the

things you see are hard and not joyful; perhaps you are at a low point in life, struggling,

fighting. Let me say this as clearly as possible - there is always Christ. There is always

the cross. And thus there is always hope. And since there is always hope in Christ, for

this life and also for the life to come, there is always at least that one thing to be thankful


So we gather around God’s table, just like many of us will gather around a family

table sometime this weekend, and we thank God for all He has done and is doing. And as

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