Saturday Sermon: Give thanks to God for your blessings
By Herb BeyerRepeatedly in the Book of Psalms, we find these words, "O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; and His steadfast love endures forever."
And in Paul's letter to the Philippians, we find him as a pastor giving thanks to God as he remembers the partnership in ministry and in his every prayer for the people.
With the approach of Thanksgiving Day, this is perhaps a time when a nation such as ours, with its rich diversity of religious expressions, can find common ground. It is a time and opportunity to direct words of thanks to God.
Take the time to consider all the blessings that have come your way in the time you have thus far lived. That doesn't count the blessings that are yet to come.
I imagine that it would be a lengthy list, and every last one of them comes by the grace and love of God.
Your good health, the healing of your ills or the sufficient grace to sustain in those difficult times, your faith in Jesus Christ, the Word of God, the gift of the Sacraments, your family, friends, and the Church, food and drink, home, the skills and knowledge for work, time (each of our days), our nation and the freedoms we enjoy and so very much more . are all God's gifts and blessings to you for your good and the good of others.
This is important to keep in mind, the blessings come to us not just for ourselves, but so that we can be a blessing to others.
The first time my wife and I lived in the country was more than 25 years ago. It was also where we served our first congregation in a wonderful community called Arneckeville, just a few miles outside Cuero, sitting on about 10 acres of land. You had to cross three cattle guards before you arrived at the church, parsonage and cemetery out back, along with a number of large, old oak trees. Now we find ourselves once again living in the country, near the community called Hackberry. Once again, our nearest neighbors are the cows of the pasture next to ours.
We see such beautiful sunrises and sunsets, the multitude of stars in the heavens at night, the occasional trespassing critters - squirrels, armadillos, raccoons, the rich variety of birds, and herds of deer (though they probably perceive themselves as the true residents).
Numerous butterflies and buzzing bees were busy pollinating our garden that brought forth a rich harvest of tasty things this past spring. And after a long wait (remember that dry and dismal year before), the rains came and brought forth the green grasses and filled the ponds all around.
What wonderful blessings these are to witness every day as a result of God giving to and renewing the creation.
Most of us will have a special time to gather with family and friends for the Thanksgiving holidays. There will a number of Thanksgiving services where the various churches come together. Hopefully, we as Americans, Christians and those of other faith traditions will see this time as more than the opportunity to partake of delicious foods or to watch Texas A&M face off with UT on the football field.
Thanksgiving Day has its roots in our history - a group of pilgrims at Plymouth Rock befriended by the resident Indians; General George Washington's experience at Valley Forge during the American Revolution; and President Abraham Lincoln and his efforts to reunite the North and South. The call has been from its beginning to be a day of national Thanksgiving by all to be directed toward God.
Thank God for the precious gifts of your faith, family and friends. Thank God for life when things are going well with all its celebrations, and in the tough times as God provides you the sufficient grace to make it through those days.
Thank God and not just with one day, one special time for observance, but every day, with words of appreciation and godly living.
As you pray to give thanks for the feast that is set before you Thanksgiving Day, remember those who have no feast, and find some way to reach out and share the blessings you are experiencing with those in need.
Pastor Herb Beyer, Tri-County Cooperative Ministries, ELCA (Lutheran).