Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Giving thanks to God

Matthew 6:25-33

Thanksgiving Eve 2009

When it comes to God and what God says and what God promises, there are simply times when I just don’t understand what God is doing or what in the world God is saying to you and me. This text that we just heard, and this national holiday that have for tomorrow is just one such of those times. Jesus says, “do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear.” And this confuses me because I keep hearing that, if I’m going to continue on living and not die, then I need food, water, air and shelter. Those are the very basic things that I need. They are the very basic things that everyone who lives upon this planet earth needs. So I’m not supposed to worry about what I will eat, what I will drink, or where I will sleep tonight?

Of course, when you take the whole world’s population into account, I am simply among the richest people on the planet. It doesn’t feel like it, but think about this. I never had to ask myself these questions: Will I have a place to sleep tonight? Will I have food to eat today, let alone this week? Will I have water to drink? Instead, I’ve asked myself these questions: Should I have a Diet Mountain Dew or Diet Pepsi? What will I have for supper tonight? When will I lay down in my warm bed after I get home tonight? Do you hear the difference in those questions? So the thing that has me completely befuddled with what Jesus is saying is how do I tell someone who’s physical well being depends on the very basic of needs to not worry about them?

The thing is Jesus telling us not to worry about we will eat, drink or wear is not a word of scolding for the person who is dealing with those basic needs in all actuality. It isn’t, because Jesus is simply stating the truth that worry will not put food on the table. It can’t. Only going out and finding food like a bird flying in the air will meet that need. Maybe I’m befuddled by what Jesus is saying, because I don’t know and I can’t understand what it truly is like to be that impoverished.

If you are aware of this or not, the Northwest Synod of Wisconsin, our synod, has a companion synod in Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malawi in Africa. The bishop from that synod said while he was visiting here in Wisconsin, “I don’t know how you people can believe in God. You have everything. What do you need God for?” Maybe this really gets to the core of what Jesus is saying tonight. Maybe Jesus is shaking us to look at the blessings that we have been given from God. Maybe Jesus is telling us what it is like to live a life where we truly pray to God “Give us this day our daily bread.” Maybe what we truly are called to be is a people who strive not for securing our future but instead striving for and seeking the Kingdom of God and God’s righteousness. Maybe what Jesus is saying shows us our need for God and tells us that our trust, our faith should be in God alone, believing that God does provide.

I think that every year we enter into Thanksgiving day we have in our minds thoughts of what we have been blessed with in our lives. We give thanks for the people who have cared for us, who have made our life a little more joyous. We give thanks for the things that we do have even as we see the things that are slipping through our fingers. But perhaps we should give our greatest thanks to the one who has given us the life that we do have and who has freed us from the death our sins condemn us to. At times in our life it can be hard to see exactly what God is up to because we don’t see our need for God. But nevertheless, God is still faithful and God continues to provide for us even when gone as far as we possibly can go and taken our last breath. And God reaches down, scoops us up and hold us within those loving eternal arms. Let us give our thanks to God.

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