Pastor's Message Nov. 20, 2022
What if you woke up this morning with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?
I came across this saying at a craft fair, a Christmas craft fair, actually. Not really the place you expect to be convicted by a pithy word of truth. Let it not be said that God cannot speak to us at any time, anywhere, through any means that God so chooses.
If my research is correct, this quote was originally spoken, or written, by Max Lucado, the fairly well-known author and minister of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas.
Have I given you enough time to think about those words? What if you woke up this morning with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?
I’m not going to ask you to raise your hand or even nod your head. I don’t want to embarrass anyone, but IF you did wake up this morning with ONLY those things that you thanked God for yesterday, would you have had breakfast this morning? Would you have woken up in a bed, been able to take that nice warm shower? Would you even have a bathroom, or a house? How about your coat, or any of your clothes? Would you have been able to drive to church, giving thanks for both your car AND the privilege, and ability, to drive it?
Did you give thanks for your spouse yesterday or the rest of your family? Your pets, your bank account, your job? Did you give thanks for your senses? Would you be able to smell, see, hear, touch or speak? Would you be here at all? Did you give thanks yesterday for your very life? How about your faith?
I try to remember to give thanks every day. But if this saying became a reality by which life was experienced, my life would be a lot less cluttered, less chaotic, and a lot simpler, more focused. Of course, if our beginning quote were our reality, we would probably spend all day, every day, giving thanks. And, absolutely nothing else would happen, because we would want to be sure we said thanks for absolutely everything, so we would have tomorrow, what we have today. And, the world would likely be nothing but clutter and chaos.
What if you woke up this morning with only the things you thanked God for yesterday? This quote is not only fitting because we will celebrate the day of Thanksgiving a little later this week, but because today is stewardship Sunday. Do you remember back a few weeks when David Obedzinski gave this year’s second stewardship reflection? Do you remember what he talked about? All those things we remembered to give thanks for yesterday came to us from God, which is precisely why we said prayers of thanksgiving for them. All our other things, which we didn’t give thanks for, they came from God, too. But, for one reason or another, we left them out of our prayers.
I suspect it’s not because we’re ungrateful. Some things in life are just so common we don’t think about them on a day-to-day basis. We can’t imagine our life without them because we’ve never had to. Sheets and towels, silverware, electricity, milk in containers, meat neatly packaged and ready to cook. The ability to breathe and walk and comb our hair. Our belief in God.
There are other things we forget are gifts, because we think we’ve earned them, houses, cars, boats, an education, advance degrees, money in our bank. They don’t always end up on our thank-you-God list.
But everything we have comes from --- God. Even our very lives and our faith.
This is what the second criminal on the cross understood. God gave him his life. The very life that he screwed up. The life that had been sentenced to death on the cross. The criminal deeds that screwed up his life was his own doing, not God’s.
The same God, who gave him his life, also had the ability, and authority, to remember (or forget, forgive) this man and his life. God had the power to let him die on earth for all eternity, or to give him life in his Kingdom. “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And even in death God continues to give to his children. “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Indeed, EVERYTHING we have comes from --- God, and God is the reason we have anything to be thankful for at all.
Stewardship is how we take care of the gifts God gives us, all the gifts God gives us. It’s another way we say thank you.
For the past four weeks you have been asked to prayerfully consider how you will take care of, how you will say thank you, for that which God has given you. Not just those gifts you remembered to give thanks for yesterday, but all of God’s good gifts.
We, of course, hope your answer will include some kind of gift to Saint Mark, so we can continue our ministry and call to feed God’s sheep. But even more important is your understanding of the breadth of God's goodness and the depth of his love for you. That regardless of what you remembered to give thanks for yesterday, he will still remember you when he comes into his Kingdom, on whatever day that may be. Amen.