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Sermon - Thanksgiving Day

In the Name… A farmer who liked drumsticks kept trying to breed bigger and better turkeys and one day announced to his friends that he had raised a turkey with six legs. “How does it taste?” his friends asked. “No idea”, the farmer replied. “I can’t catch the darned thing.” The story is told that a woman boarded a bus, but every seat was filled. A man stood up and offered his seat. The woman was so shocked she fainted. After she was revived, she looked up at the man and said, "Thank you." Whereupon, he fainted. The point of this story is that it often seems that the phrase "thank-you" has fallen out of the common parlance. And, this is sad because thankfulness is good for the soul. You see, the Bible teaches that a thankful attitude is more than just polite; it actually brings Heaven and Earth together. Thankfulness turns our hearts towards Heaven. Now, I believe there are no wasted words in Scripture and would like us to note that, in the famous miracle of the feeding of the Five Thousand, before passing out the food, it is recorded that Jesus gave thanks. Now, remember, what he had on his hands was a hungry crowd and what he had in his hands were only five loaves and two fish. Of course, he knew what was going to happen and, so, we might think that He, of all people, didn't have to offer thanks to God because he was God. So, why do we have this curious scene of one Person of the Triune God talking to another Person of the Triune God? Because Jesus was asking us to see beyond the material to the spiritual; beyond the bread and fish to the God who provided the bread and fish. The lesson Jesus wants us to get is that even the smallest morsel of food points back to its Maker and Giver. And, not only food, but for every good thing that we might enjoy. The lesson is that there is a relationship between the material and the spiritual. Of course, this lesson runs contrary to two common attitudes today. First, there are many people who never see anything spiritual in life. They consider material things as all there is. They have what they have entirely because they have achieved it. And, second, there are many people who accept a spiritual dimension to life, but keep that entirely separate. That is, they accept the reality of God and the value of faith for personal self-improvement, but see no relation between that and any of the things they own. They have what they have entirely because they have achieved it. Oh, wait. Didn’t I just say that about the unspiritual people? Yeah. It’s a seductive trap for everybody. But, Jesus shows us that, whether we admit it or not, our lives are tied to and in and with God. You see, in giving thanks, Jesus was making the ordinary sacred. It wasn't just bread and fish and later on today it isn't going to be just a piece of pumpkin pie or turkey on your fork. It isn't just a computer on your desk or a car in your garage. After you have given thanks, whatever it is you have becomes something holy, sacred, a gift from God Most High and dedicated to his use. Thanksgiving makes the ordinary sacred. And, that’s another word and concept that’s difficult for our modern society – sacred – because it is a word and concept which draws our attention away from the material and into the realm of the spiritual. The Bible teaches that something that is considered sacred is something which has been dedicated to the service of God. Now, since the Bible also teaches that we are God's holy people and dedicated to his service, honour, and glory, then all that we have, be it our time, our money, our homes, our cars, our toys, our games, our furniture, even our families, is also to be used for the service, honour, and glory of God. Which brings us to why we are here today in church instead of watching the Macy’s Parade. We’re here because, on this Thanksgiving Day we want to give thanks; we want to join the material world to the spiritual; and we want to dedicate to God what has been given to us. Just as Jesus did. And, for what are we giving thanks? Each of us has a different list in our hearts and minds, but all of us share a few things in common. First, we should probably thank God for life itself. Only in Him do we live and move and have our being. Only in Him do we have the ability to think and enjoy and respond and wonder. Second, we should thank God for providing our physical benefits. Yes, some of us could have more things or better things; even so, we have food, clothes, and a roof over our heads. We consider these common things, but they do not come by chance. We also know that in places all over the world, very few people dare to take these for granted. Third, we should also thank God for our families and friends. Granted, for some people, it is painful to remember relationships broken by death or estrangement. But even as we feel such grief, we can be thankful for those who uphold us and love us still. And fourth, and most important, we should thank God for grace and salvation. In Christ, God has blessed us with every sort of spiritual blessing. He has provided us with the means of grace and the hope of glory. He has delivered us from sin and eternal death. When Robinson Crusoe was wrecked on his lonely island, he drew up in two columns what he called the evil and the good. He was cast on a desolate island, but he was still alive. He had no warm clothes, but he was in a hot climate where he did not need them. He had to forage for food, but he was not starving. He was without any means of defence, but he saw no wild beasts. He had no one to whom he could speak, but he had the ship’s Bible and could read what God had to say. So, let us be like Robinson Crusoe and Jesus and give thanks realizing that this is what joins the material to the spiritual; realizing this is what makes the profane sacred and dedicates it to the service of God. Let us give thanks to God for his many blessings. In the Name…

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