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Thanksgiving Sunday B Sermon
Matthew 6: 25-33
November
18, 2018

 

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Matthew 6:25-33

‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

May the grace, mercy and peace of God our Father be with us, in the name of his risen son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; Amen.

Have you ever sat back after a fine turkey feast, looked around at friends and family and proclaimed, “I wish everyday was Thanksgiving Day!”? It is a nice sentiment, since repeating the events of this day everyday would most certainly bring us that much joy, but more than once a year. It is easy to look at what we have and what we do on Thanksgiving and want more of it … but what about those things that we are missing because of the holiday? I remember when our kids were younger watching the video, “Elmo Saves Christmas.” In the video, Elmo, the cuddly Sesame Street character, wishes that every day was Christmas Day. Santa visits Elmo, and in the style of Scrooge and It’s A Wonderful Life, he gets to visit a future where his wish comes true – every day is Christmas Day. It is okay for a couple of days, but then the grief starts to happen: Santa’s elves have to work constantly to produce the toys for a daily Christmas; Maria and Luis cannot open their fix-it shop because it is always a holiday; trash never gets picked up, Snuffy is always in Cincinnati to visit family for the holiday to Big Bird’s dismay, and other holidays like Easter and Independence Day get forgotten. Elmo learns his lesson: Christmas being one day a year is enough. If it was every day, there would be an overload … and nothing else would get done.

I suppose that if Thanksgiving was every day we could imagine what could happen. Besides the usual things that would not get done because every day is a holiday, there would be a turkey shortage, football players would be worn out from playing a game every day, and Black Friday would NEVER arrive!! Okay … well, some things wouldn’t be that terrible. But you see how it just would not be a practical thing. Maybe what we are really wishing for is that the sentiment behind Thanksgiving lasted every day of the year. That is something that all of us could get behind, I am sure.

When George Washington made the first proclamation for a national day of thanksgiving and prayer, he emphasized the fact that the reason for our thanksgiving was not our own hard work or our persistence as a nation, but God: that we might unite in offering God our sincere and humble thanks for our many blessings. It is this attitude or lifestyle that we are called to emulate every day of the year. Jesus puts it another way at the end of our Gospel reading this morning – in this excerpt from his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus encourages us to, “strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” The “all of these things” to which he is referring are the aforementioned, “What will we eat, drink or wear.”
So let’s go back to imagine what I first asked us to imagine … what if we lived every day of our lives like it was Thanksgiving, seeking first the kingdom of God and trusting that everything that we need for life will be given to us as well? Seeking the Kingdom of God most certainly involves grateful living – knowing the blessings of love and joy that we have from God and following God’s commands to share the love and joy with those who may not experience it enough in life. What if we were to seek God’s kingdom every day, not just these special holidays where we naturally think about the blessings of the kingdom and our merciful God?

According to Jesus’ perspective, it is a matter of priorities. Worrying about food, drink and clothes turns our perspective inward, focusing our lives on our own comfort and happiness. People who worry about these things in life are rarely generous, except a few days a year when they are expected to share their food or resources with others. Worrying to the point of fixation replaces faith and trust in God with fear and scarcity. Worrying in this way also often makes us forget all of the things that we have been given by God as gifts – those things that have brought us joy that were totally unearned. This past week I was able to be gone for 6 days with 15 other friends to golf in South Carolina. The weather was not perfect – that area is still recovering from being dumped on by the rains of a hurricane a couple of months ago, and it rained quite a bit last week as well. It was kind of chilly, and my golf game was inconsistent, as usual. But to have a time away to spend with friends enjoying God’s creation, some good food and drink, and prepare for the upcoming Advent and Christmas season was a real gift for which I truly am grateful. Not only am I grateful to God for this opportunity, but I am grateful to my wife and kids who make it possible for me to be away, taking care of our everyday household duties; I am grateful to our church secretary who steps up even more than she usually does while I am away; I am grateful for those who clean up the condo after we are gone, for the cooks, servers and dishwashers who worked at restaurants where we ate, and for you for allowing me to be gone. Gratitude can be shown in so many deeper ways than we initially think of, and seeking first God’s Kingdom is all about showing deep gratitude for everyone around us who make it possible for us to experience God’s creation.

How can you make Thanksgiving a daily experience? I don’t mean having turkey, watching football and taking off work every day. I mean how can you seek God’s Kingdom first instead of worrying about what you are going to eat, drink or wear? It begins by examining your life experiences on a deeper level than just on the surface – who are those people that you may or may not know that God calls to help you experience God’s presence? There are far more than you can think of or thank! Giving thanks on that deeper level, then, our lives are transformed into living gifts of gratitude and love for others – beginning with those closest to us, and extended to those unseen people whose lives somehow impact ours. May the joy of thanksgiving be a daily experience for all of us, so that the gift of God’s Kingdom can be experienced and shared with those around us, known and unknown; Amen.