Monday, November 15, 2010

Nov. 14 Sermon: Thanks

1 Thessalonians 5: 11-22
1 Chronicles 16: 7-14, 28-36

Hmm, I must've accidentally deleted the recording this week--notes only!

Met with the finance committee this past week. Two part series, First on Thanks and Second on Giving. Hahah! You’re stuck coming for the Giving sermon b/c you don’t want to miss the Thanksgiving pot luck!

Thanks:Taking? A response to what we have received , or a regular posture of gratitude in all things? Paul’s words for the Thessalonians is that we should be thankful “in all things.”
Hand getting tired from writing so many thank you notes.

Courtney would say this on the football field after we’d pair up doing our receiver’s drills. What is it about receivers that causes them to be so boisterous?

We were taught various methods of blocking, but perhaps the easiest way to block when we had someone covering us “man on man” was to just run off toward the endzone. If the cornerback failed to block us, then we could potentially be thrown the ball and then we would be able shout him down with “You betta recognize!”

Of course, this didn’t work as effectively with me. An observant cornerback would probably note that I was never really thrown the ball, and so there would be nothing to cover. Instead, I’d have to work for my blocks, because there was nothing to “recognize” with me.

There’s something I noticed about the hymns and professions of praise and thanks in the scriptures. They all go something like this. 23Sing to the Lord, all the earth. Tell of his salvation from day to day. 24Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples. In other words, “you betta recognize!”

There’s something about praise and thanksgiving that is connected intricately to the notion of spreading the word.

I know sometimes when someone has done something wonderful for me, I know they don’t want to feel put on the spotlight, and so a simple heartfelt expression of gratitude is the route I go.

God, on the other hand, loves the spotlight. God wants us to put Him in the spotlight in our lives, because that’s how other people will see God.

That’s one constant thread throughout all the scriptures of praise throughout the Bible. The call to Thank God for this or that is always followed by “tell everyone how great God is.”

I thought today’s theme of Thanks also applied to the civic holiday we recognized this past week in Veteran’s day too, don’t you think?

Most veterans I know, including my grandfather, don’t talk much about their service. They don’t necessarily want to be put on display for the great sacrifices they have made for all of us, but I can guarantee you that they probably sense our true thankfulness for their efforts on our behalf when we tell other people, when we teach our children about what a great privilege it is to live in this free country, and how that great privilege, purchased with the lives of our veterans, demands great responsibility.

If we simply accept the good without giving thanks, amnesia sets in and we begin to believe in another God. We begin to believe in the God who says we deserve what we have because we have worked for it. We begin to serve that God by taking without gratitude, by spending without thought of others, by living the “looking out for #1” life.

When we forget to live thanks, we forget that God is God and that we are not. God saves us from that trap by commanding us to remember—to remember who we were and the journey we have taken as a people. To remember that the bounty we share is a gift from God. IN the sharing of thanks, we remind each other of our gift.

As Paul says in the second letter to the Corinthians, “the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” The more thanks we sow, the more thanks we will reap. If we live with a joyful and thankful heart, we will continue to live in joy. The generosity which is an outpouring of gratitude will multiply our gratitude. If we don’t feel thankful, then we probably need to give more.

It’s kind of like that odd fact that scientists have found that if you smile more, then you will be happier. Even if you just fake it—even if you’re not happy, if you smile more and often, the face muscles signal to our brains that things are going swimmingly, and research shows, our mood improves.
Gray skies are gonna clear up,
Put on a happy face;
Brush off the clouds and cheer up,
Put on a happy face.
Take off the gloomy mask of tragedy,
It's not your style;
You'll look so good that you'll be glad
Ya' decide to smile!
Pick out a pleasant outlook,
Stick out that noble chin;
Wipe off that "full of doubt" look,
Slap on a happy grin!
And spread sunshine all over the place,
Just put on a happy face!
ThanksLiving is making this openness to God our lifestyle, our permanent dwelling place. Thanks-Living is making our heart an altar, and bringing the light of Christ to that altar. Have you noticed that oftentimes, it is easier to generate a sense of collective victimization than collective joyfulness? When we get together with people we may not know, sometimes we bridge the gap of unfamiliarity by gathering around the things we despise. We pump ourselves up on our shared troubles or worries or whatever it is that unites us negatively.

. Yes, it is our temptation to rally around our shared dislikes, complaints, and feelings of victimization. What would it be like to identify with one another by our thankfulness? What if, instead of uniting around our shared dislikes, we instead found a common bond in our shared gratitude?

This, I think is the community we are called to form under the banner, “Christianity.” When we live with thankfulness in our hearts and share that thankfulness with others, the things we have to be thankful for seem to multiply. Let’s take a moment to experiment with this. We’re a community of believers, and I would hope that we have a lot to be thankful for.

No comments:

Post a Comment