Tomorrow night we will be holding “Thanksgiving Eve” worship services at both churches, 6:00 pm at Peace United and 7:30 PM at Grey Eagle UMC. How do we give thanks? For what do we give thanks? And to whom do we offer our thanks? Here is a short poem about thanks:
A GENEROUS LOAN
With what presumption have we dared to voice
"Thank You for home (although we hold the deed),
Our acre, trees, and flowers (ours by choice),
Our faithful dog and cat (though it's agreed
No one can own the latter), each good book
(A gift, or purchased), all else we foresaw
That we should cherish, and have made to look
Ours by possession (nine points of the law)."
With what presumption have we called them ours,
And even felt unselfish when we shared them--
When, if the truth be known, they have been Yours
From the beginning, Lord! You have prepared them
For us to borrow, using as our own:
So thank You, Father, for this generous loan.
-- Elaine V. Emans
Our readings for Thanksgiving Eve are:
Deuteronomy 8:7-18 – Deuteronomy, for the most part, is like the last will and testament of Moses as he instructs the people of Israel before they cross the Jordan and enter into Canaan where Moses can’t go. In this passage Moses tells them that everything the people of Israel will need will be provided by God. Moses also warns them of the temptation that comes with that blessing: forgetting God and assuming that they did it on their own. Isn’t that our temptation also as we live in a prosperous land? That all we have we got on our own?
Psalm 65 – The psalmist praises God and thanks God for all that has been provided.
2 Corinthians 9:6-15 – I have often used the beginning of this reading to emphasize generous giving. But notice the theme of the reading. God gives generously so that we will give generously. God gives the seeds so that we can sow them thereby increasing the harvest. It does no one any good to hoard the gifts we have received, for when we give, generously, we receive in abundance the righteousness of God.
Luke 17:11-19 – This very familiar story is the basis of thousands of sermons on giving thanks. Ten lepers, who, by definition, are the epitome of social outcasts, ask Jesus for healing. Jesus tells them to go see their priests. On the way they discover that they have been healed. One goes back to Jesus to thank him. Turns out that he is a Samaritan whom Jews thought were as bad as lepers. Did the other nine, whom we assume were Jews, kick him out of their group because he was a Samaritan? Did the Samaritan know that he would not be welcomed by the Jewish Temple priests? Or did the nine continue on to the Temple knowing that that is the place to encounter and thank God while the Samaritan return to Jesus knowing that Jesus was where he had an encounter with God?
Our readings for Sunday, November 30, the First Sunday of Advent, are:
Isaiah 64:1-9 – At the opening of this passage, Isaiah asks God to reveal God’s self; to come to earth and do something dramatic like God did in the past. Isaiah feels that God must be angry because the people have sinned and God has withdrawn. The key verse, perhaps, is Isaiah’s recognition that we are still God’s children and that God will mold us into who we shall be. The metaphor is God as the potter and we are the clay. What will God mold you, your family, and your church into?
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19 – The sentiment of this Psalm is similar to the Isaiah passage. The psalmist, Asaph not Solomon, starts with the metaphor of God as the Shepherd of Israel. However, this shepherd is missing and Asaph wants God to return. The skipped verses then turn to the metaphor of Israel as the vineyard that God has planted, but God has broken down the vineyard fence to allow looter to steal the fruit. The last three verses states that if God were to restore the people the people would be faithful.
1 Corinthians 1:3-9 – Remember that the First Church of Corinth is a troubled and divided congregation. It amazes me that Paul still gives thanks to God for this congregation. Notice what Paul says the congregation has been blessed with. Notice that Paul believes God will strengthen them for the future coming of Jesus. God has been faithful and will always be faithful for we are continually being called into fellowship with Jesus.
Mark 13:24-37 – Every year the first Sunday of Advent is also the first Sunday of the church year. Every year on this Sunday we begin another Gospel, Matthew, Mark, or Luke. And, every year, we start that Gospel near the end during Jesus’ last days leading up to his betrayal, arrest, trial and crucifixion. Why start there? Why don’t we start with the Christmas story instead of trudging through Jesus’ dreary speech about troubled times ahead? Perhaps, as someone once said, the beginning is in the ending. We should pay attention to what is happening in our world, like watching the trees in spring, to understand the coming of the Lord. If the waiting seems too long, don’t give up.
May the Lord bless you in all that you do and may you always keep waiting and give thanks.
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor