Friday, November 27, 2015

Sermon for 11/25/15: Eve of the Day of National Thanksgiving

Audio: RIGHT-CLICK HERE to save the audio file.


Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have so much of what you need or want that you have to build bigger buildings to hold it? Wouldn’t it be great if your harvest was so plentiful that you needed extra trucks to carry it to the silo? Wouldn’t it be fantastic if that year-end bonus was so large that you had to open an extra bank account? Wouldn’t it be exciting if your team scored so many points that the scoreboard couldn’t count that high? Wouldn’t those be wonderful problems to have? It would be hard, in fact, to even consider those to be problems. If only all our problems would be so taxing! May the Lord smite me with it! May I never recover!

But whether one is rich or poor, the wealth of this world comes with problems of its own. The rich man has been blessed to abundance by God with daily bread.  He has everything he needs to support his body and life for many days.  So this rich man sits in his easy chair and thinks, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” It is not sinful to be rich. It is not sinful to enjoy the blessings which the Lord provides for you. But it is sinful to ignore the source of your blessings. This rich man forgot the God who made him and blessed him.  He was not interested in the things of God. He was interested in happiness; he was interested in the pleasures of this life. He was interested in himself instead of being interested in God.

The psalms have a word for those who are not interested in God. Twice the psalmist says, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” That is exactly what God called this rich man.  God said to him, “Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” Or as Jesus said elsewhere, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”

That is the problem on our hands, while we gather to give God thanks at this traditional time of thanksgiving in our nation. When we take stock of the harvest of blessings that God has poured out for us, we see that God has blessed us plentifully, with blessings beyond our ability to store them up. He has poured His blessings generously into our homes, workplaces, schools, government buildings, and the Church, beyond the capability of these man-made buildings to hold them all. And while we, who have been made so rich by God, consider with wonder this great bounty, we are right to ponder the wonderful problem this presents to us: “What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?” What shall you do, rich people? My brothers and sisters in Christ, repent, lest you be found by the Lord to be a fool.

This bounty of blessings is provided by God to make us wise unto salvation.  Our Heavenly Father provides “all this out of pure, fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me.” The Lord gives graciously so that we learn the truth that the Lord is gracious and full of compassion. Although a man’s life soon ends, there is yet time to turn away from the way of the fool and to walk the way of the wise, those who walk in the light of the Son of God who is abundant in mercy. It is in our Savior Jesus that we see the full bounty of God’s grace and compassion and love. It is in our Savior Jesus that we find the full abundance of God’s blessings upon us. It is in our Savior Jesus we fully grasp the truth that “one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”

Even so, God the Father now hands down to you every heavenly blessing in Christ Jesus, in overflowing abundance.  He has blessed you with forgiveness of all of your sins in the holy washing of your Baptism.  He has blessed you with the promise of eternity in the world to come through the proclamation of His Holy Gospel.  He has blessed you with a new life marked by continual thanksgiving through the Feast of His Body and Blood.

So yes, my brothers and sisters in Christ: eat, drink, and be merry; rejoice, giving thanks to God for all of the blessings that He has poured out upon you. Enjoy them, and enjoy sharing them with your neighbor, for our gracious Father will continue to provide all that you need: both for this life and for the life to come. In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.

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