Sermon Thanksgiving Sunday Yr B

Thanksgiving Sunday Yr B, 11/10/2009

Matt 6:25-33

Rev. Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson

Pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, &

Chaplain of The Good Samaritan Society’s

South Ridge Village, Medicine Hat, Alberta

 

“Thanks for God’s kingdom and righteousness”

 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, while locked inside a Nazi prison, wrote the following words: “By good powers wonderfully hidden, we await cheerfully, come what may.” In today’s gospel, which is part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, we too are exhorted to await cheerfully, come what may—living with a sense of awe and thanksgiving at our heavenly Father’s good powers wonderfully hidden. Instead of worrying about what to eat, drink, and wear; Jesus encourages us to look around at God’s creation. Look at the birds of the air, the lilies and grass of the field. See how our heavenly Father provides for them, and creates them with such beauty. We are of much more value and God provides much more for our needs, both spiritually and physically. Seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness; live in a relationship of trust and obedience to your heavenly Father; open your heart and life to him; see his work all around you in creation; such seeing opens us up to live life giving God our thanks. When we spend our life whining and complaining, finding fault and criticising—then we become blind to how generously our heavenly Father provides for all of our needs. Our energy then is focussed on what’s wrong in life and prevents us from living a life of thanksgiving. The following story illustrates this quite well.

A poor devout woman lived with her husband, their five children, and her mother in a one-room hut. The children were noisy, and the crowded conditions often produced loud arguments. In summer, when the family spent many hours outdoors, life was bearable, but when winter arrived the family felt trapped because the small house was filled with crying and quarrelling. One day when the woman couldn’t stand it anymore, she ran to the Teacher for advice.

“Teacher,” she cried, “life is miserable. My husband, our five children, my mother, and I are so crowded in our little hut that we argue and quarrel every day. I can’t stand the noise anymore. Please help me. I’ll do whatever you say.”

The Teacher pondered her request for several minutes. Then he asked, “Do you have any chickens?”

“Certainly,” the woman replied. “We have six chickens, a rooster, and a goose.”

“Excellent,” said the Teacher. “Go home and bring the chickens, the rooster, and the goose into your hut to live with you.”

The woman was surprised, but she immediately left for home, promising to move the poultry into the house.

After a week passed, the woman returned to the Teacher. “Life is worse than before,” she told the teacher. “In addition to crying and quarrelling, we now have honking, crowing, and clucking. Yesterday we all had feathers in our soup. The hut seems smaller and the children seem larger. Please help me!”

The Teacher considered the woman’s words before he spoke. “Do you have a goat?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said slowly. “We have an old goat, tied to a pole behind our house.”

“Excellent,” said the Teacher. “Untie the goat and let it live in your hut with you.”

“Teacher, we are already crowded,” the woman cried.

“You did ask for my help, didn’t you?” the Teacher responded.

The poor woman walked home, untied the goat, and brought it in the hut. Five days later she returned. “Teacher,” she said desperately, “everything is worse. Now, in addition to the crying, quarrelling, honking, crowing, and clucking, we have a goat pushing and butting everyone with his horns. The hut seems even smaller.”

The Teacher asked, “Do you have a cow?”

“Yes,” the woman said fearfully, “we have a cow.”

“Go home and take the cow into your hut.”

“Oh, no, Teacher,” the woman cried. “My family will be angry.”

“Tell them the Teacher has ordered it.”

The poor woman went home and told her husband to move the cow into the hut.

“Is the Teacher crazy?” he shouted.

Still, they moved the cow into the hut.

Three days later the woman returned. “Life is a nightmare,” the woman cried. “Now, in addition to the crying, quarrelling, honking, crowing, clucking, and butting, the cow tramples everything. We all argue and shout at one another. Help me, please!”

The Teacher smiled. “Go home and let the animals out of your hut.”

The woman turned and went home as fast as she could run. As she ran she yelled, “Thank you, Teacher, thank you.”

As soon as she reached home the woman, and her husband let the cow, the goat, the chickens, the goose, and the rooster out of their hut.

That night the poor man and all his family slept peacefully. There was no honking, crowing, clucking, butting, or trampling. There was also no arguing or fighting.

The very next morning the woman and her husband came to the Teacher. “We wish to thank you for your help,” the man said.

“Life is sweet and peaceful,” the woman responded. “We love our home. It is quiet, peaceful, and so roomy.”1

 

On this Thanksgiving Sunday, we have much to be thankful for. Do we have the eyes to see and the heart to appreciate all the blessings our LORD has given us? The following story is a beautiful example of having the eyes to see and the heart to appreciate God’s blessings around us in God’s creation—even when life is difficult and trying:

The story comes from Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning. Do you remember Frankl? He was the psychotherapist who was imprisoned by the Nazis and survived to write a book about his experience. He told about the afternoon in one of the camps when the men had tramped back several miles from their work site and were lying exhausted and sick and hungry in their barracks. It was in the winter, and they had marched through a cold, dispiriting rain. Suddenly one of the men burst into the barracks and shouted for the others to come outside. Reluctantly, but sensing the urgency in the man’s voice, they stirred themselves and staggered into the courtyard. The rain had stopped, and a bit of sunlight was breaking through under the lumpy, leaden clouds. And it was reflecting on the little pools of water standing about on the concrete floor of the courtyard. “We stood there,” said Frankl, “marvelling at the goodness of the creation. We were tired and cold and sick, we were starving to death, we had lost our loved ones and never expected to see them again, yet there we stood, feeling a sense of reverence as old and formidable as the world itself!”

Was that romantic and unrealistic? Surely it was, in a way. Yet it was an experience of incredibly deep significance to those men. It reminded them, for all their woes, of the invincibility of the things they really believed, of the values of love and friendship in a world gone awry. It put them in touch again with faith and hope and courage. It gave them what they needed to go on living in a crucible of cruelty and humiliation.2

So, on this Thanksgiving Sunday even if you are experiencing troubles, worries, anxieties, illness, pains, hurts, grief, suffering—remember that there are many things and people, many blessings you can thank God for. If God provides food and shelter for the birds of the air; how much more will our heavenly Father provide us with food and shelter? And consider the lilies of the field; our heavenly Father provides clothing for them more beautiful than all the wardrobe of King Solomon—how much more will he provide clothing for you? Let us pray: Thank you God of heaven and earth for the beauty and richness of your creation. Grant us ever thankful hearts and lives; help us to count our blessings today and every day, and share them with everyone, especially those in greatest need. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

1 Cited from: Wm. R. White, Stories for the Gathering: A Treasury for Christian Storytellers (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1997), pp. 126-128.

2 Cited from: John Killinger, “Of Rainbows, Geese and Wildflowers,” January 22, 1995, at: <http://www.csec.org/csec/sermon/killinger_3816.htm&gt;.

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About dimlamp
I am, among other things, a sojourner, a sinner-saint, a baptized, life-long learner and follower of Jesus, and Lutheran pastor. Dim Lamp: dimlamp.wordpress.com gwh photos: gwhphotos.wordpress.com

2 Responses to Sermon Thanksgiving Sunday Yr B

  1. Even if a Norwegian, I do look forward to TG. I’m married to an American you know and we always share our habits and traditions.

    Happy Sunday and a great week ahead!

  2. Love says:

    Thank-you for sharing this, and for the reminder.

    Love.

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