Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Sermon

Thanksgiving 2010
Deuteronomy 8:6-18

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

We should be thankful for indoor plumbing, hot water, and microwave ovens. But we're not. Not really. Not normally. We don't really notice them until something goes wrong. We should be thankful for the spice aisle and a wide variety of fresh produce all through the winter. We should be thankful for penicillin and band-aids. Are you? How about asphalt, co-axial cables, and synthetic rubber? What about soap, toilet paper, and teflon?

That is the problem with lists of things we're thankful for. If we made an honest list, it'd be empty. To fill it up we have to rename it to things we should be thankful for but mostly aren't. And even then we'd only hit a few highlights. We'd say: family, friends, food, America, and good health. But would we remember plastic wrap and freon gas?

Man's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses. Yet how many hours have your spent daydreaming about what you'd do with an windfall of a million dollars? Money does not buy happiness. But it can buy a lot of opportunities, security, beauty, and peace of mind. That is why the love of it is the root of all evil. The love of money is love of self and the desire to make one's own way in this world. It is the opposite of thankfulness.

In the Christian heart thankfulness is not expressed in saying “thank you” so much as in saying “I, a poor, miserable sinner.” For any thought of all the good things in our lives immediately brings to mind our daily ingratitude and our unworthiness. As many and as innumerable are our sins, so also are the good things in our lives, the things like synthetic rubber that we take for granted. We cannot possibly list them all. We have not noticed them all.

So the Lord warns Israel: Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God. It is God the Lord who gives you power to get wealth. He laid the copper in the hills and the iron on the ground. He caused the wheat and barley, vines, figs, and pomegranates to grow and the sweet water to flow down the valleys. He brought His people out of slavery and made them free men in a land of prosperity when bread was not scarce, where they lacking nothing. But this prosperity brought danger. Do not forget. Do not grow complacent. Look out for the serpent.

Woe unto us. We have forgotten! Why else would we not list toilet paper and asphalt on our lists? How could we forget to thank God for Thomas Edison, the Wright brothers, and Walter C. Camp? Did we think, like teen-agers, that if we throw our dirty clothes on the floor fairies come and clean them and put them in our dressers? Did we think the refrigerator fills itself? Silly, to be sure. But serious as well. For our view of creation has been no less self-centered and vain. Repent.

But do not be afraid. For if earthly mothers keep doing laundry and keep grocery shopping, even buying the junk food that some teens think is the only substance that qualifies as “real food,” then God is more faithful, more loving, more devoted to your well-being. He does not love you because you say “thank you.” He loves you because that is who He is. It is what He does. He is love. While you were still a sinner, while you hated Him, He sent His Son. He sent His Son because He loved you. And this is the way He loved you: He sent His Son. This is Love. Shouldn't we be thankful for it? Of course. But our thanks does not add to it. God does not need our thanks or praise. He does not need someone to love, but He loves to love, He loves to give, He loves to forgive. And since it is not mother's day I'll even dare to tell you a secret: He loves you more and better than your mother does.

We pray then that God would fill us with thanks and praise, that we would bless His Name, that we would be served by Him. We pray that He make us thankful not only for the ordinary things of this world, co-axial cables and fresh fruit all winter; but that we would look in awe at the Bible; that God Himself would cause us to realize that we hold His holy and infallible Word! Thank God for doctrine, for the revelation of the Son, for Martin Luther. God Himself would speak with us, comfort and encourage us, guide and protect us. May we remember at the Altar that we are surrounded not only there but at all times with armies of holy angels who protect us from the demons and join their worship to ours. May we tremble with joy at the thought that God would enter into our flesh and join Himself to us through simple bread and wine.

Of the things for which we should be thankful there is almost no end, least of which is certainly not the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. Thank God for them. But what God has done for us our hearts cannot contain, our thanks and praise cannot express. Our cups runneth over. God is good. His mercy endureth forever. He loves us and forgives us. Soon He shall bring us home. We will live in the promised land free of serpents with no forbidden fruits.

In +Jesus' Name. Amen.