READING: Joel 2:21-27; I Timothy 2:1-7 and Matthew 6:25-33
SERMON : "Thoughts On Thanksgiving"
Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
The following is a more or less complete liturgy and sermon
for the upcoming Sunday. Hymn numbers, designated as VU are
found in the United Church of Canada Hymnal "Voices United".
SFPG is "Songs For A Gospel People", also available from the UCC.
Sources: The Poem Prayer is taken from an older work by Vincent
Magro-Attard titled "My Prayer".
HOMILY: ""Thoughts on Thanksgiving""
I thought I would play with some paper again this Sunday.
You will remember this one -- GODISNOWHERE (GOD IS NOW HERE)
Today I have another -- "RESPONSIBILITY".
To most of us it may seem a rather nasty word,
suggesting to us as it does the concept of either blame,
credit, or duty.
If I should suggest to you a sentence that goes like this:
SHE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR TODAY'S DINNER.
you could take all three meanings from it -
she is a good cook
she is a bad cook
and, of course - not matter how she cooks,
"she has to cook".
But today I would like you to look at the word in a different
a way which is at the root of all thanksgiving feasts,
from the ancient feast of Tabernacles - or Sukkoth,
to the modern feast we celebrate this weekend.
I would like you to see, instead of the single word
RESPONSIBILITY, two separate words - the words "RESPONSE ABILITY"
I think you all know the American festival of Thanksgiving was
first observed by the Pilgrims in 1621.
It lasted three days and was celebrated with
goose, turkey, and beer.
It happened, partially in response to the scripture that says -
- "when you have gathered in the crops of the land, you shall
celebrate the feast of the Lord for seven days"
and partly in response to the fact that the Pilgrims, poor
as they were at the time, felt they were richly blessed by
They felt in short, that they had been given a response ability,
and having that ability, strong believers that they were,
they exercised it, sharing their tables with each other,
and offering thanks to God for bringing them to a new
land, a land full of promise,
and for watching over them every day.
So it was with the Pilgrims, and so it was the children of
Israel, who on three separate times of the year - Passover,
Shavuoth, and Sukkah - offered thanks to God,
presenting before God and presenting to God various offerings
from the years crops,
offerings that were used both in the worship of God in the temple
and then, from the temple, disbursed to all the poor and
needy of the land.
Our ancestors in faith - from Sarah to Mary,
and from Abraham to Jesus,
all were convinced that God is the source of everything,
and that by graciously giving all things to us,
God provides us with a response ability,
a response ability that God hopes we will use for the good
that he intends for us, and for the good that he intends for our
neighbours and our world.
God has given us a response ability:
the ability to respond to Him
and the ability to respond to others.
And this is true whether we are well off or whether we are
experiencing times in which our physical resources are lean.
In the hard times you see, we still have so much,
we have life, no matter how slenderly we may hold to it,
we have family and friends, no matter how scattered,
we have community, no matter how it is organized,
and we have the presence of God,
and the promise of Jesus Christ,
- the promise that when we seek first God's kingdom and God's
righteousness, that all that we need will be added unto it.
Even in hard times, we, like the Israelites at the time of Joel,
have a response ability, and if we choose,
we like they can in fact respond by offering God thanks,
true thanks - a thanks giving from what God has given.
We have the ability to respond to God's love and grace,
and we can respond
- by offering God the resources that he first gave us,
- by offering God pray, prayer that he first taught us
- and by offering God and each other love --
the love he first gave us
a love that extends to all that God has made,
a love that extends to all creatures,
and to all people - even our own selves.
I think that when Jesus told us not to be anxious about
tomorrow, about what we eat or
drink or wear.
it was to remind us that we are at all times blessed by the
Spirit of God with many things, things both physical and
Thanksgiving is a time we can choose to look at these things,
a time we can choose to find God speaking to us through
what he has given us,
and a time when, having looked and found, we decide to
truly thank God for what he has given us,
and to truly trust God for what he will do.
That is what seeking the kingdom of God is all about,
and that is what is thanksgiving is all about:
and thanking - thanking in word and in deed,
out of the response ability God has given us. AMEN
God has indeed given us all things, and I know today or tomorrow
as you sit to eat, you will offer your thanks to God in prayer
for many of them. Later in the service we will offer gifts to
God of thanks, resources, and prayer for others. At this time,
however, as we think of what God has given us, let us pray this
prayer SAYING AFTER ME EACH LINE - Let us Pray
God, give me eyes that I might see
the work that can be done by me.
God, give me ears that I might hear
the cry of those who need me near.
God, give me lips that I might speak
comfort and peace to all who seek.
God, give me a mind that I might know
how to help those who need you so.
God, give me hands that I might do
some large or simple task for you.
God, give me a prayer that I might pray
Thy help and guidance every day.
And this one thing, all else above,
God, give me a heart that I may LOVE!"
-- Pray Poem Source - "My Prayer" by Vincent Magro-Attard
copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 1997, 2003
please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.