Our family was at a dockside restaurant in Florida and when the food arrived from the kitchen after a respectable wait my then 6-year old granddaughter, Olivia said, “Wait! Wait! We’ve got to pray!”
What she was really saying was, “Wait! Wait! We’ve got to give thanks.”
SPEED DISCOURAGES THANKSGIVING
Speed discourages thanksgiving. The faster we go, the less often we see our blessings. Sometimes what we need to do is slow down, let our eyes and hearts refocus, so that we can see the blessings.
One night, years ago, I was driving through Kentucky with the top down on my car. The fields and roads near the highway were dotted with the light of fireflies. Running along at 70 miles per hour, the dots of light were a blur.
On another night, I stood in the middle of a small meadow, surrounded by deep woods, in the Smoky Mountain National Park. Standing perfectly still I watched as hundreds of thousands of fireflies lit up in an amazing, magical, almost rhythmic pattern. It was breathtaking. What had been a blur at 70 became a holy, beautiful, inspiring thing when I stood still.
We are all moving fast, and yet speed often keeps us from seeing the blessings. Speed discourages thanksgiving.
COVETOUSNESS AND ENVY ARE THE ENEMIES OF THANKSGIVING
God knew we would have a tendency to compare what our neighbor has to what we have, or do not have. The Hebrew scriptures give us the Ten Commandments, (Exodus 20:17), “Do not desire your neighbor’s house. Do not desire and try to take your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox, donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.” (I assume this includes new iPhones, HD flat-screen televisions, basketball shoes, and vacations.)
New car and truck marketing campaigns are working hard to persuade us of two things. First, Christmas is all about buying a new car and second, whatever new car you have will never be as good as the new car your neighbor brings home from that other luxury car dealer.
When we start comparing what we have to what others have, it is a recipe for misery. We end up devaluing our blessings, and start walking around with a persistent grumble of unhappiness.
I THANK HIM FOR MY LIFE AND BEING
John Wesley was raised in the home of an Anglican priest and was a person of faith, a brilliant young scholar at the age of 21, but he was smug and arrogant. One night he met a porter who was exceedingly grateful. The gladness at being alive radiated from the man although he was very poor, had only one coat, and did not have a bed. The man talked about his gratitude to God.
The brilliant young English scholar, who would later found the renewal movement known as Methodism, mocked the poor man. “And what else do you thank God for?” he asked sarcastically.
With eyes alive with joy, the porter said, “I thank God that He has given me my life and being, a heart to love Him, and above all a constant desire to serve Him!”
The man’s heart of gratitude had a great impact on Wesley.
Years later as people gathered around the 88-year old Wesley on his deathbed, he began to praise God by singing the hymn, “I’ll Praise My Maker While I’ve Breath”.
Happy are they whose hopes rely on Israel’s God,
Who made the sky and earth and seas, with all their train;
Whose truth forever stands secure, who saves th’oppressed
And feeds the poor, for none shall find God’s promise vain.
I’ll praise my God who lends me breath; and when my voice
Is lost in death, praise shall employ my nobler powers.
My days of praise shall ne’er be past, while life, and thought,
And being last, or immorality endures. (-Isaac Watts)
Giving thanks is one of the most powerful, healing, transforming, life-giving things we can do. It would be a shame to limit such a good thing to just this one week.
Slow down. Open your eyes. Give thanks.
Give thanks to God who has given you life and being, and a heart to love Him.
- The church offices are closed Thursday through Saturday.
- Thank you to those who have made a financial commitment to God’s work in 2018. We are surrounded by opportunities to do great good for God!
- Our Mission of the Month is our “Mission Guatemala Work Team.” Your gifts will help send this team on a mission to Central America in late May/early June. Interested? -Find the Mission table in the Gathering Place.
- Join us this Sunday for the last morning in our 31-week sermon series THE STORY.
We’ll be looking at the way history ends – the garden is restored and love wins!
- Our Advent Bible Study, Faithful, begins this Sunday, the evening of November 26th at First Methodist at 5:30. Pastor Teri and I will be leading this study of Christmas through the eyes of a carpenter.
I am so very thankful,