Thanksgiving 2020 Sermon Text

November 25, 2020 Church Blog, Sermons0

Thanksgiving 2020 – Thanksgiving!? What’s there to be thankful for?

  1. It is not uncommon in the world of sports with all of the money and fame that come with success that things get a little heated when teams don’t succeed.
    1. In 2001 the Indianapolis Colts lost to the San Francisco 49ers 40-21
      1. In that game they turned the ball over 5 times: 4 interceptions and 1 fumble
      1. In the post-game press conference then coach Jim Mora gave one of the most memorable tirades in NFL history
      1. Mora ran down a list of the team’s failures not only in that game but for the season getting angrier and angrier as he listed their weaknesses
      1. When he paused in his rant a reporter asked about the playoffs leading Mora to respond, “Playoffs…don’t talk about playoffs…playoffs are you kiddin’ me…playoffs…I just hope we can win a game!”
    1. Let’s face it when we get riled, we don’t always hold it together very well and after this year at Thanksgiving you might be feeling like coach Mora
      1. Covid has fundamentally altered our lives for almost a year now, many businesses that aren’t out of business are teetering on the edge.
      1. We don’t know whether our kids are going to school or not going to school.
      1. The very fabric of our society seems to be tearing as we’ve endured riots, upheaval, and election chaos.
      1. So, you might be thinking, “Thanksgiving…don’t talk to me about Thanksgiving are you kiddin’…what do we have to be thankful for this year?!”
    1. But that’s exactly what God calls us to do even in the midst of whatever trouble may have come our way
      1. Listen to Paul in our Epistle lesson, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God…for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Php 4:6,11-13)
      1. Paul is writing these words from prison, and as unpleasant as prison might be today the conditions then were quite different.
      1. Whether you ate or not, had blankets and clothing or not did not depend on the government, you were held in prison at your own expense – you ate if someone brought you food, etc – it wasn’t provided
      1. That’s why in our Gospel lesson from this past week Jesus commends the faithful sheep for visiting the prisoners because that’s what Christians did – they remembered those who would otherwise be forgotten and in so doing they were serving the Lord.
    1. So, here’s Paul in prison completely dependent on others for food, drink and warmth and he’s thankful!
      1. This is the same Paul who had listed his other trials and tribulations for the Gospel in II Cor, Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. (2Co 11:24-27)
      1. Now that’s a list Mora could be proud of, talk about potential for rant material!
      1. This year there are many in our world who could match that list with a list of their own, it has not been a pleasant year.
      1. Yet Paul says in our reading tonight (written after II Cor as he looked back on his life from prison), do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Php 4:6)
  2. How and why…what is it about Christians that makes us crazy enough or dumb enough to give thanks in all situations
    1. We catch a glimpse of it in the first article of the Apostle’s Creed and its meaning which we read tonight
      1. From that tiny first article, “I believe in God the Father Almighty maker of heaven and earth,” Luther writes a comprehensive summation encompassing everything that the Father has done for us.
      1. After listing all the things Luther states, “All this He does only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him.”
      1. Even in the terrible circumstances of this year God has cared for us, maybe not as we’ve been accustomed, there are many who have had to wait in food lines, take government support and mortgage relief, but those programs exist by His mercy and grace.
      1. Our country and its people have been able to pull together to help provide a stop gap that was impossible in earlier times and doesn’t exist in other countries today.
      1. God provides for our needs through the hands of others and He does this for all people not just faithful people, not just “good” people, out of His divine goodness and mercy alone.
    1. But even more important than our physical needs Luther recognized that God also, “defends me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil.”
      1. Irrespective of what happens in this world a Christian’s peace and security (hence our thankfulness) rest in the knowledge of what Paul said in Rom 8, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:35-39)
      1. Your Lord loved you enough to sacrifice His own Son to save you, there is no way if you cost Him that much that He would ever let you fall.
      1. Do you think the Lord will let a thing like Covid or bankruptcy or anything else that this year could throw at you separate you from Him? No way!
      1. And because we KNOW that nothing can take away our eternal security even when faced with earthly insecurity we have, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,” that guards our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. (Php 4:7) that Paul had as he sat in prison awaiting martyrdom
    1. May that peace of God that passes all understanding guard your hearts and minds this Thanksgiving as you praise your loving Lord and Savior for all that He has done and is doing for you!