We are in a period of thanks giving. It is a time to reflect on the things for which we should be thankful.
When trying to decide what you are most thankful for, imagine everything you had now was lost and I am not just talking about material possessions – everything and everyone, God included. You stand alone. What would you give to have your life as you know it returned and which things would you choose to have back first? This helps us to understand our priorities.
Perhaps family springs to mind first. Hot on their heels comes employment, maybe health after all you cannot enjoy the first two without health.
Then home, friends, God, what of the Church and this community?
I was struck by word Thanksgiving.
It is thank you followed by giving.
So if we are blessed with family, are we called to be family to those who have none?
So if we are blessed with income are we called to share with those who have less?
So if we are blessed with friends are we called to be a friend to those who have none?
So if we are blessed to have salvation are we called to bring the gospel into the lives of others?
So if we are blessed with forgiveness are we called to forgive others?
So if we are blessed with reconciliation are we called to offer reconciliation to others?
Out of the bounty of God’s gifts to us must flow bounty into the lives of others.
If we consider the boy who brought his fish and his loaves, Jesus created bounty from that. So even if our offering seems small know that God can do exceptionally great things with such an offering.
If you took your salary every month and banked it and never gave your family anything, you would seem mean and loveless. Seen as a Scrooge. A person robbed of joy.
In a sense we receive a daily salary from God made up of all we have our blessings.
We can say a quiet, heartfelt thank you. OR we can practice real thanks giving and allow our blessings to flow into the lives of others, we can live thankfulness.
So it would appear that we have a choice; be thankful and give, or be thankful and not give.
This choice would seem to depend on whether you agree with me or not or perhaps whether you care.
However, the reality is we do not have a choice. I say this to you and I say it to myself.
If we are here today because we are Christian then we are apprentices of Christ and we cannot call ourselves apprentices of Christ and not give. Because he is our example and he has blessed us abundantly
We have been lavished with love, loved without reserve, Loved without counting the cost.
Christ sacrificed his life for us and so we cannot hold on to our own.
So out of our thankfulness must come blessings to others? The Church is not a dam in which we store up the blessings of God but rather a river through which they flow. The Church is one of the few organizations whose main purpose is to meet the needs of non- members.
I want to turn for the moment to comment on the Church. That is you and me. My brothers and my sisters.
We come together in this place out of a world geared to consumption. We are treated on a daily basis as customers and it is hard for us to shake off that role, that mind-set.
We believe we are entitled to have our needs met and this can lead us to believe that the Church exists to serve our needs and should ask nothing of us.
But we are not customers coming to sit in the pews to watch a spiritual performance having as much input into that as you would have into a movie. Or as much connection to the person next to you in the pew as you would have to the people in the audience at the movies.
Rather the community exists to shape and guide MY soul, and to provide encouragement to me and HOLD ME ACCOUNTABLE.
Transformation into Christlikeness is the responsibility of the Church. Transforming me is actually your responsibility. To ask nothing of me is to fail to love me. Is to fail to live out the Gospel.
As we as a community are apprentices of Jesus and so become transformed into his likeness. And so we are sent
We leave worship as new people, inspired by our connection with each other and to the old old story. Then we go out into the world to change it through our presence in it.
We are shaped and sent.
So it is not what God has given, blessed us with, or gifted us with but rather what we give, and bless and gift to this community. That is the true measure of our thanks giving.
We cannot come here week after week and not be transformed and not transform one another. If we do we are kidding ourselves. Jesus is the most transformational person we know; Allow him to transform you into living out thanks giving.