Emmitsburg Council of Churches


The Holy Gospel According to Matthew 6:25-33

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 6:26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 6:27 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 6:28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 6:29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 6:30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you -- you of little faith? 6:31 Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear?' 6:32 For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 6:33 But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

The Gospel of the Lord . . . Praise to you O Christ.

Thanksgiving Lessons

On this Thanksgiving morning we are gathered together in order to express our heartfelt praise to God for all of God's goodness to us through this year and all the previous years of our lives.

We have indeed been the recipients of such a generous outpouring of goods, and wonderful foods, and warm clothing, and a vast array of -- shoes(!!) (A pair for every occasion), and we have been blessed with comfortable homes to live in . . . There's also access to an amazing array of transportation that can take us to any place in the world! We have the ability to communicate with our friends, family members or business associates anywhere and anytime at the mere touch of a button . . . There's So much to be thankful for in these days

And for all these things we have come together this day to bear witness before one another that we are Thankful to God -- Thankful to God who has enabled us to have the "physical" and "intellectual" ability to produce or acquire these things, to possess them, and to use all of these things for his glory.

We live in an age where there are no limits on the ways in which we can experience God's goodness and blessing working in our lives . . . and yet we must realize (we do realize) that there have to be limits on what we take and consume in our lifetime -- lest another brother or sister be deprived of the goods that they need to live a rewarding life none of us is able to remain in a spirit of Thanksgiving if we know that any individual or nation is living in a degree of misery while we would live in luxury.

Therefore, IN these modern days we do have to be continually mindful that our blessedness can equate with another's being deprived of necessary goods or services This is the reality of our present existence in a global economic system. --And because each of us is a part of this system we have to approach our Thanksgiving with some degree of penance -- because we are so blessed others are not.

And yet we do come before God to give our thanks. We come with complete honesty about who we are and who we have been. We approach God in the sincerity of our faith, even though it be "little" as our Lord has said. Our approach to God is not done in a spirit of merit, as though we deserved anything, but we come humbly to offer our thanks, this is our only reasonable service to God who is our Creator, our Source and Provider.

In a small village in El Salvador - A coffee farmer exclaims, "Thanks be to God" and fair trade -- we're not starving."

This farmer is grows his coffee in the hills around Las Colinas a village that was devastated by the earthquake of January 2001. Two years later he is thanking God as he feels optimistic about the future of his family who will live more securely because his local coffee coop sells to the fair trade organization called Equal Exchange (EE). Which is supported in large part by churches. The Equal Exchange coop gives the farmer a better wage for his labors. His word of Thanksgiving, is a word of hope in a country where poverty, hunger, and heartbreak would only increase as coffee prices fall lower and lower on the global market.

The farmer gives thanks to God with sincerity. God has heard his cry.

Thanksgiving for us must be a time when we pause in our celebrating and feasting to take quality time to reflect on how blessed we truly are . . . . The generous portions that we enjoy at the table this day have come at a cost. Therefore, we should eat and drink with a depth of appreciation for all the persons, the energy, the resources, and life that was given to bring us this bountiful feast that we savor at our table.

It is an exercise of Gratitude that is at the soul of our Thanksgiving to God. We bring more than just "appetites" to the Thanksgiving table. We come, not just with a hunger that originates from the belly, but we come with hungering spirits To express our thanks to God for life!

In the Gospel for today,

Jesus asks us to take time out and spend some time contemplating and considering how good God is to us. Jesus is very clear that to truly enter into a state of appreciation of God's goodness you and I have to take some time to stop, and look around us, to think and to meditate on what all of the "things" around us mean. Jesus asks us, "What do you see?" "I see some birds Lord" Jesus says, "What about those birds?" "Well they seem to be healthy and enjoying their fluttering around, that one up there is really enjoying flying high on the wind above the mountains." Jesus goes on to point out, "They neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them!" "It's amazing Lord, I'll bet their mighty thankful to God for having all that fun!"

Taking time to consider the wonders of the natural world can give You and I time to think about how great it is that God cares for us (we humans) all the more! And much much more thankful we must be! God who supplies the needs of his creatures also supplies our needs (human needs) bountifully!

In Closing we ask:

So what does it mean to give thanks to God?? How can we transform the spirit of our Thanksgiving meal from one of feasting to a time of reflection and genuine gratitude to our Creator God??

I think that the Gospel suggests that the exercise of "giving thanks" takes an equivalent measure of energy as that which we expend when we desire something . . or want something to be done for us -- like when we pray, "Lord give us today our daily bread." In like fashion, and with the same energy or more, we should express our appreciation when God has provided for us. We should give thanks constantly and, by faith, we should give thanks always at all times, even in difficult times trusting in God's goodness, mercy and love.

God feeds the birds of the air will he not feed us in spite of our "little faith??" Surely God does see to it that we're fed. And we can offer our praise and thanks to God with an equal level of fervor, and when we do this . . . then we are moving toward the true spirit of Thanksgiving.

Let us Pray:

We Thank you Almighty God for all of the many blessings we have in knowing you. We thank you for this day as we are reminded to always have faith in you and not to be anxious for anything. Bless and keep your children throughout the world, now and always through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen




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