The Readings (Deuteronomy 26-1-11; Philippians 4.4-9; John 6.25-35) teach us that when people honor God and keep His Commandments – including the Commandments to give thanks; they will be blessed with a life of love, joy and peace. This is the Good News we have for the many people we see around us who are obviously unhappy and frustrated in their daily lives. The reason they are unhappy and frustrated is they are focusing on the bad news around them and trying to make it on their own, without any help from the God who created them for a relationship of blessing. Frank Sinatra – as in “I did it my way” probably had no relationship with God, did not really know about forgiveness and had no spiritual life. Thanksgiving Sunday is an opportunity to reflect on how well the Spiritual Law of Thankfulness and Blessing is working in our own lives. The Readings teach us to give thanks.
1. Deuteronomy - thanks-giving is our part of the Baptismal Covenant
Moses is teaching the Hebrew People to remember and keep their Covenant with God. They had cried out to God and God had heard their cry for help, rescued them from slavery in Egypt and given them possession of a new land. Their part of the Covenant was to honor God each year by presenting the first-fruits of their labor as an offering of thanksgiving.
· Like us the Hebrew People were seduced by material prosperity and peace into forgetting about God
· Baptismal Covenant still requires us to honor God by giving thanks
· Holy Communion / Eucharist prayer called the “Great Thanksgiving”
· First Commandment is to love God in our lives
· Hebrews to bow down to God when they presented offering
· We tend to forget that tithing is connected to showing our love of God – First Commandment
· Tithing is evidence we really trust God – real love costs something
· Good news is that God wants to bless us - will pour out even more blessings on those who trust in Him
· My own experience of always tithing and being blessed with having enough and more
2. Gospel Reading explains Jesus New Covenant of Thanksgiving
The New Covenant that God made adds to, but does not replace, the older Covenant with Moses (that was broken). Jesus Covenant added a new way to forgiveness through trust in the sacrificial death of Jesus as potential payment for personal sin-guilt.
- Our part is belief in what Jesus did, shown by repentance, confession, taking our sins to the Cross and asking for forgiveness.
- By believing in – giving thanks for what Jesus has done we experience a love and forgiveness that replaces our fear and shame
- Forgiveness cleanses us, more into right-relationship and holiness
- Holiness ->enables the Holy Spirit to live in us
- Holy Spirit comforts us, takes away our fear and gives us a new spiritual life of love, joy and peace with God.
- Spiritual Law of Thankfulness and Blessing:
- Thankfulness -> Forgiveness -> Holiness -> Blessings of the Holy Spirit (Love, Joy and Peace)
3. Eucharistic Prayer is called the Great Thanksgiving
Many people in our time have not been taught how the prayers we use in Holy Communion bless us as we give thanks to God for the gifts of His love for us – forgiveness in Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit and a life of love, joy and peace. These prayers:
- Begin with an acknowledgement of the holiness, power and authority of God.
- Like Deuteronomy - summary of what God has done for us in creation, rescuing the Hebrew People and speaking to us through the Prophets, rescuing us from sin-guilt through Jesus and giving us the gifts of Holy Spirit
- Jesus teaches us that He is like the mana – bread from heaven
- Sacrificial death for our sins opens a way to spiritual life of blessings
- Bread and wine are offered to God – become “part of God” as in pagan religious practice – then we “eat God” // Memorial
- End with thanksgiving hymn “Glory to God”
- Our “Amen” re-connects us to God through giving thanks
- How Spiritual Law of Thankfulness & Blessing operates
- Thanks-giving opens a spiritual doorway so God can bless us more
- Thanksgiving helps us overcome our fear – focus on blessings
- Experience God’s personal forgiveness and love
- Blessed as we grow in a spiritual life of love, joy and peace
4. Philippians teaches us how to live a life of thankfulness and blessing
The Apostle Paul is teaching us the signs of a person who is really thankful to God:
- They radiate joy because they know that they are loved by God
- They are not anxious or fearful because they know they can trust in God for all their real needs
- They are at peace – not in conflict, ‘out of order’ - striving for more
- They are joyful because they appreciate the truth about God
- They value purity and justice and are “untroubled” (Philippians 4.9)
- People who really love Jesus act differently – they live lives of thankfulness and joy
There is a spiritual law of thankfulness and Blessing– the more we are thankful to God the more we are blessed by God!