A Day of Thanksgiving
“Thankful, Come What May”
November 23, 2017
Sermon Text: Philippians 4:6-20
Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Again, a blessed Day of Thanksgiving to you all! In one sense, what really needs to be said? Here? Now? It is a day of giving thanks, right? Enough said? And for those who are already giving thanks that this might be the end of my sermon, think again.
It is just that one of the great qualities of the Christian faith… the Christian life… the Christian man and woman, teenager and child is, in fact, being thankful, truly thankful… not now and then … but always… constantly and continuously.
And this from having been taught the same… how one is brought up… in the home and in the church. We have been taught to be thankful, brought up to be thankful and yes, that includes our fathers and mothers teaching us to say “Thank you” when we were given something.
But it is a whole lot more than that. It is you and me having been shown by our parents, our pastors and others, that we have every reason to be thankful and then some… all of the time… come what may.
Why? Because we have been shown… it has been presented to us… explained to us… and we have seen with our own eyes… our own hearts and minds…the myriad of treasures that we possess… that are ours, really ours… now in time and in eternity.
It literally takes our breath away. How rich we are! How blessed we are!
And so the words of St. Paul resonate with us, including his injunction, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
What were those last three words? “In Christ Jesus.” It is all in Jesus… our life and every reason for thanksgiving… for being thankful, come what may.
We let our requests be made known to God as we constantly and continuously come to Him in prayer and supplication… and we know: (A) That He hears us… certainly hears us; and (B) That He will answer us with His perfect answer in His perfect time. This, too, is sure and certain.
It may be the answer we were seeking and hoping for. Then again, it may not be and actually turn out to be the exact opposite of what WE wanted. But it is still for the best… our best. It is still the perfect answer to which we simply, trustingly, say, “Amen.” This is what “faith” is… what “trusting” is all about.
And this is true, as with the Apostle Paul, whether we have a lot or a little, whether we know success or disappointment. In the Christian faith, in the Christian home and in the Christian Church we, “have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” Because in the Christian home and in the Christian Church it will run the gamut. There will be plenty and there will be hunger, abundance as well as need, but it is all good because it is all God working through it all.
The secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need? Christ our Lord. And in Him we are thankful, come what may. In regard to our lives and our days here on earth, we do not write the script. God does! And we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Regardless of our situation… regardless of our circumstances… in Christ, it is all good. He made it good on the cross at Calvary, paying for our sins with His innocent body and precious blood.
And that “goodness” … all things good… becomes our own in Holy Baptism. There and then, we were translated from the devil’s kingdom into God’s kingdom. There and then, we became children of our heavenly Father and heirs of His heavenly kingdom, recipients of that which is truly precious now in time and in eternity.
So it is that with thanksgiving (which for us, is not a day, but a way of life)… we continue on… each and every day throughout our lives.
With thanksgiving in prayer and supplication we let our requests be known to God and then, for us, it is done. We made our requests. God knows our requests, will do what is best for us and we have the peace, live in the peace which surpasses all understanding… that it all rests with God… rests in God… our hopes, our dreams, our desires, our present and future.
And we simply and wonderfully rest with God. We are in His hands and mercifully, graciously receive everything we need through His divine providence and goodness.
We give thanks to God. We make our requests known to Him in prayer and supplication and we continue on in faith, living the faith, each and every day, focusing on, working on, striving toward, as St. Paul goes on to say, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable.” (Philippians 4:8)
And this, while we are surrounded coast to coast, from Washington to Hollywood and everywhere in between with that which is false, dishonorable, unjust, impure, unloving, disgusting and reprehensible.
Every time we turn around now someone else is being charged with sexual harassment and other improprieties… someone else is being indicted for this crime or that.
Dear brothers and sisters, you will remember that among the first to come to this country were Puritans. They were not. Pure that is. And neither are we… sinners the lot of us. But thanks be to God, in Christ Jesus we can also say… “Forgiven, the lot of us” … sanctified the lot of us in Christ Jesus, only in Jesus… as we earnestly seek, out of true love and thanksgiving, to live a pure, honorable and upright life… where love abounds through none other than Christ who richly dwells in us and orders our footsteps, keeping us on the straight and narrow way that leads to heaven and our eternal home.
The Lord is with us… sure and certain. We live in His forgiveness, His mercy and grace… sure and certain. For this and so much more we are “eternally grateful.” It is not just a phrase. It is the reality we live in now and in the world to come. Amen.
May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.
“Thankful, Come What May” 11/23/17 The Rev. Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church,