Day of Thanksgiving – October 7, 2018

Rev. Lyle McKenzie      Lutheran Church of the Cross of Victoria
Joel 2:21-27 / Psalm 126 / 1 Timothy 2:1-7 / Matthew 6:25-33

Let’s pray… God, we hear Jesus’ words about not worrying and feel like we have little faith when we do. Move us beyond our fear to seek your dominion and righteousness above all else, freeing us for gratitude and generosity as we receive them from you, by your Spirit in Christ Jesus, forever, Amen. Thanks be to God.

Blessed Thanksgiving Sunday! It’s pretty simple. A Sunday and holiday Monday to give thanks, religiously for some, culturally for others. Give thanks for family and friends and the good we enjoy, give thanks to God as provider of all that is good. Like Anne Lamott’s second of the three essential prayers, “Help, Thanks, Wow.” It’s “thankyouthankyouthankyou.” Blessed Thanksgiving!

I have spent the week, asking in different settings, people’s thanksgivings. There have been listings of what’s essential, loved ones, food, shelter, clothing, community, health care. But also more singular moments and acts, a tender mercy, kind gesture, going home, reaching out to take a hand and say simply the name of a loved one still near, or gratitude for a dearly departed but gifts and memories that remain even with the grief and pain.

Thanksgiving’s invitation to pause and open ourselves to the gratitude we feel is good and right, and a way to encourage a habit of gratitude. It’s a good habit, like coming to worship and noticing how many times we say thanks, thanks be to God.

But realities make it less simple. We may give thanks for all the good we experience, but what about all that’s not good – suffering for ourselves or others, what’s Thanksgiving then?

There is a world of struggle and pain for others, from Indonesia to the United States, Yemen to Russia, too many African and South American nations to indigenous people and the poor and homeless in our own nation and community. What’s thanksgiving for them, for us with them?

I want to read from another of Anne Lamott’s books, Hallelujah Anyway. She wrestles with rediscovering mercy and grace and gratitude in the midst of hopelessness.(Page 109-120).

It’s an invitation to stop, listen, enter the depths, and find God’s waters of life, grace and gratitude for ourselves and others. Thanksgiving.

Jesus’ words today offer that invitation. They may not feel like it at first. Who cannot worry? Birds of the air and lilies of the field, fine for them, but I have a few more responsibilities and concerns and things I have to get done. But following on the words just before about not serving two masters, God and wealth, we can hear Jesus’ critical concern. That if worry over tomorrow’s needs, and our all too human tendency to think there is never enough to fill our need; if that is our first concern, there is space for little else, for truly living today, little freedom to experience gratitude, and therefore generosity. Jesus invites us to live free of that worry by God’s grace. Thanksgiving.

Quoting Anne Lamott again, from Help, Thanks, Wow; (pages 54-57, 61-63)

Our greatest thanks, our endless praise is that all this is opened to us, this freedom is given to us by God’s gracious act of generosity in Jesus, giving everything, that all humanity and all creation have life, new life, in thanksgiving, gratitude, generosity, grace. Blessed Thanksgiving. Let it be so. In all our relations. Amen.