Monday, November 28, 2016

Sermon for 11/24/16: Thanksgiving

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

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is on the television, and then you can find college basketball and pro football on pretty much any channel. Meanwhile, the table groans with turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes and gravy and corn and green beans and dinner rolls, and the sideboard is covered with pies. There’s beer and soft drinks in the fridge and wine waiting to be uncorked. And trough it all, we make our plans for Black Friday shopping. It seems Thanksgiving has become the holiday which celebrates overindulgence. But what are we indulging in? Everything set before you on the Day of National Thanksgiving is a gift from our heavenly Father. Those things are a gift.
Idolatry happens when you turn the gift into the most important thing:  when you deem these things to be more important than the Giver. Who hasn't been so invested in something that they've forgotten about God, deciding that whatever they like is much more interesting than the Lord's Word? Think of it in terms of the rich man. Perhaps you don’t have a grain silo. But how about this? What shall I do, since I have no room for my big screen TV, my new sewing machine, my new rifle, and my new SUV and boat? I will do this: I will pull down my house and garage and build bigger, and there I will store all my worldly possessions. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”’ There's some Thanksgiving Day repentance for all of us! While the Lord is generous in giving us stuff, that stuff isn't the center of our life. After all, those things will pass away. Your TV will short out. Your sewing machine will get knocked off the table. Your rifle will misfire. Your car will break down. Your boat will sink. The earthly gifts you treasure will turn to dust, just as your body will one day.
Your life doesn't find its value in the abundance of your possessions. Your life finds its value in Jesus. In Him you have everything you need—and this is so much more than just material possessions and daily bread. In Him you have the sacrifice that has taken away your sins; the resurrection that has conquered death for you; and the sacramental water, Word, Body and Blood by which you have forgiveness: the heavenly treasures that will not rust or fade away, that thieves cannot steal, that no one can take from you.
Jesus being your Savior means that every sin which has made into an idol the gifts creation is forgiven. It means every gracious gift from our Father can be recognized as a gift instead of a god. It means you have from our Lord far more than you could ever ask for or dream of or imagine. You have life beyond this earthly life, bread beyond your daily bread and turkey sandwiches, joy and gladness beyond even your favorite sports team winning or losing!
Some folks have traditions of helping others on Thanksgiving. Many more have traditions of helping themselves to seconds and thirds. Either way, as Christians, we recognize all these things as gifts from our heavenly Father through our Lord Jesus Christ. But above all, in Jesus, you have an abundance which is beyond anything in this world, for in Him you have eternal life. Thanks be to God! 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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