Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sermon: Thanksgiving Eve – 2012

21 November 2012 at Salem Lutheran Church, Gretna, LA

Text: Deut 8:1-10

In the name of + Jesus.  Amen.

“You will eat bread without scarcity.” 

That is a promise of God, dear brothers and sisters.  “Without scarcity.”  For that “scarcity” is our problem.  That is the cause of poverty and competition, of covetousness, of fights over material goods, of wars, of revolutions, of the mighty taking from the weak, and of the majority ganging up on the minority.  This scarcity – which began after the fall in Eden – is what causes the love of money, what leads to jealously, and is why we have police and courts and prisons.  The reason we have hungry children is because bread, unlike the air we breathe, is scarce.

But the Lord reveals a glimpse into our glorious future, an existence without sin and death: “the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing.”

Can you imagine lacking nothing?  Can you imagine a world without want?  “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”  Can you imagine natural resources being plentiful, like the air we breathe, “in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper.”

This plenty over scarcity, this abundance over want, this wealth over poverty is promised to us, dear friends, when the Lord’s plan is brought to the fullness of time, and the wages of our sins have been abolished forever, when we return to the plenteousness of paradise, to an existence before struggle.

“And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land He has given you.”

And in a sense, the Feast of Thanksgiving is a little foretaste, a fleeting preview, a glimpse however imperfect into this eternal divine abundance.  For this is the time of year of the harvest, when in spite of our sins in the Garden of Eden, our own imperfect gardens nevertheless produce the fruits of their growth, “each according to its kind.”  And crippled as they are by the genetic and environmental effects of sin, this time of produce is still a time of feasting instead of famine, of having instead of having not, a time to share instead of a time to hoard or do without.

And for this gracious promise of abundance, we give thanks to our Lord.  For as “He humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna,” so does our Lord continue to provide for us, dear friends.  The Lord provides for us.  And even as He feeds us bodily food, He provides us with much, much more: for “man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”

God’s Word is a kind of food for us to eat, a bread for us to taste, a nourishing meal to sustain us on our pilgrimage in this land.  And what’s more, the Lord provides us a holy meal, the flesh of the Lamb, a Thanksgiving Feast of liberty, of victory over the tyranny of Pharaoh and of Satan, of conquest over slavery and sadness, a redemption from sin, disease, and the death that our broken world and broken existence ultimately leads us to.  All of this has been swept away, dear friends, and we celebrate this Passover with a meal – a meal we have brought to completion in Christ, in which we partake freely this evening, and will partake of until He comes again.

For the greatest Thanksgiving feast of all is the Eucharistic Feast, a thanksgiving for the Lord’s death on the cross, for His redemption of us by His blood, for His flesh given to us as miraculous manna in the wilderness, as a sacrificial Lamb in which He Himself is at the same time Victim, Priest, Guest, and Host.  We sit at His table at His invitation and we dine with Him and on Him.  And through Him we ascend to the Father, rolling back the corrupting ages of our fallen world and sinful existence.  For He has replaced the scarcity caused by our sin with the abundance brought about by His love.

And so “let us give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good, and  His mercy endureth forever!”  Let us celebrate with all the faithful and unfaithful alike in the feast of the produce of the harvest, of the blessings of the crops, of the loving labor of productive hands crafting scrumptious meals.  For ultimately, the source of this bounty is the merciful Lord, who in spite of our sins, still provides for us, in spite of the scarcity we deserve, nevertheless, continues to feed us beyond what we can ever imagine or hope for in body and in soul.

Most of all, dear friends, let us give thanks unto the Lord for the eternal thanksgiving feast, the wedding banquet, the body and blood of the Lamb in His kingdom – which has no end.  Let us glory in this bread (prefigured in the manna of old) and in this wine (prophesied as dripping sweetly from the mountains) as we return the thank offering of a grateful heart to Him who saved us by grace through His forgiving sacrifice for us, Him who shares Himself with us, Him who withholds nothing from us, Him whose mercy endures forever, who has come to give us life that we may have it abundantly.

“And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land He has given you.”


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In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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