Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

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Location: Moscow, Idaho

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Eve

Thanksgiving Eucharist
November 21, 2007
Text: Phil. 4:6-20

“(D)o not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6; ESV). As Christians, we have no need to be anxious about our life, what we will eat or drink, or what we will wear, for we know and believe that we have a loving heavenly Father, and He knows that we need these things. If He loves us, He will surely provide for “everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.”[1] This is what we mean when we pray for daily bread in the Lord’s Prayer, as our Lord Himself bids us do. Indeed, we confess in the first article of the Creed, “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. What does this mean? I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them. He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all I have. He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life. He defends me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil. 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. This is most certainly true.”

Christian thanksgiving flows from faith. It flows from a faith that knows that God is gracious on account of Christ, and desires our every good. It flows from a faith that knows that because of Christ God is a loving Father who only wants the very best for His children, and will not allow His children to truly be in any need. Sometimes it will seem to the children like they are in need. But this is not unlike our own children, who often think that they need things that we as parents know are bad for them. “I’m starving!” declares the child to his mother. “Why don’t you have some carrots, then?” suggests the mother, who knows that the child is far from starving. “No,” replies the child, “I’m starving for cookies. I need cookies.” It is easy for us to see that the child does not know what he really needs. The mother does. The child should trust the mother. The mother will not let her child starve. And though the child thinks cookies are the best medicine to quiet the rumbling of his stomach, the mother knows that carrots are much better, have more nutrition, and do not make for tummy aches. Therefore there will be carrots with dinner rather than cookies. And when the child grows into maturity, he will thank his mother for always giving him what he needed, for loving him enough not to give him the things that were not good for him, and for providing for his every real need.

Is this not a description of our relationship to God our Father? We are His children. We do not know what we need (even though we think we do), nor are we able to provide for our own needs (even though we think we are). God does know what we need, and is able and willing to provide for us. So trust Him. Believe that He will give you what you need, and you will be free to live a life of thanksgiving and praise. That is our duty, after all. For all that God so graciously gives us as our loving Father, it is our duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him. That’s the description of thankful living.

Therefore do not be anxious. You are free not to be anxious. Rather, present your requests to God in prayer and supplication and trust that He will deliver. He may not deliver what you want, but He will always deliver what you need. And then don’t forget thanksgiving. Thank Him, because before the prayer is even on your lips, your heavenly Father knows what you need, and is quick to answer.

It is easy to be thankful when we think of all the blessings the Lord so generously rains down upon us, when we think of “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise” (v. 8). Chiefly do we thank and praise God for His great mercy in sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us on the cross, and for raising Him from the dead. Through Him we have the full and free forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and salvation. And it is because of Christ and the reconciliation He has won for us with the Father that God so generously blesses us with every material and spiritual gift. Because we know Christ has brought us into a right relationship with God, we can rejoice in any circumstance. We can be content in any situation. We can rejoice and be content when we are brought low and when we abound, in facing plenty and hunger, in abundance and in need. For we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength (vv. 10-13).

This Thanksgiving Day, our president has called upon the nation to give thanks to God for the innumerable blessings He gives us. It is truly good, right, and salutary for us who are in Christ to do so. Our thanksgiving flows from faith. We know God will provide. So on this eve before Thanksgiving, we come to be fed by Him. We open our mouths, and He fills them with His Word, with the Word’s body and blood. We are not anxious, for we know from experience, that it is true, as Paul says, “my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen” (vv. 19-20). In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

[1] Catechism quotations from Luther’s Small Catechism (St. Louis: Concordia, 1986).

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