matterofprayer blog post for Monday, November 24, 2014
“Come, Ye Thankful People, Come”
Yes, it’s that time of year again. How many shopping days before Christmas? What do I need to strike off my holiday check-list today? Where is the party I’m obligated to go to, this weekend? Who do I need to pick up at the airport on Wednesday?
Oh, and our national observance of Thanksgiving happens to occur on Wednesday.
Yesterday, at church, we celebrated Thanksgiving. Giving thanks for all that God has given to us. Yes, our church does follow the liturgical calendar. However—I strongly felt that giving thanks needed to be front and center for our congregation. So instead of the last Sunday of the liturgical year, Christ the King Sunday, I decided to lift up this thankful time of the year.
The Gospel reading for Thanksgiving in Year A is from Luke 17, where Jesus meets ten lepers. They call to Him from some distance (being unclean), and ask Him to have mercy on them. His response is simple: “Show yourselves to the priests.” On the way, while they were going, they found themselves healed. All ten ex-lepers were healed. One returned to give thanks.
Yes, I preached on the one who came back after the miraculous healing. The one who was thankful and grateful. He couldn’t help but come back and say, “Thank you!”
In the reading from Luke 17, yesterday, one ex-leper was grateful. Thankful. Showed God how much he wanted to love and to serve God. At the end of the sermon, I asked the congregation to speak up, and tell how much God had blessed them—a little testimony time! We had a wonderful time of sharing together how much God has done in this past year. We talked about our gathering in what God has given to each of us. Yes, we all do have challenges and trials. But God is good—God is gracious. Even through these difficult things, God provides for all of us so abundantly.
I am reminded of the hymn we sang yesterday, the one about raising “the song of harvest-home.” Sure, the hymn talks about gathering in the harvest. The fruits and vegetables. But, it talks about much more. We sang all four verses. These classic hymns have lyrics that often pierce me to the heart. The second verse tells of the whole world being God’s own field, and the author asks “Lord of harvest, grant that we/wholesome grain and pure may be.” And the last verse? The author states in gratitude: “Gather Thou Thy people in/Free from sorrow, free from sin. There forever purified,/In Thy presence to abide;” in that triumphal time, in that final harvest-home.
Let’s pray. Dear Lord, Gracious God, in the waning of the year, I think of the harvest. Gathering in the bounty You provide for all of us. I pray, with the author of our hymn, that I—that we—may be fruitful, wholesome grain for Your harvest. Help us to do Your will, go where You want us to go, and fulfill the tasks You have set for us. Then, we will look forward to Your final harvest-home; and go to be with You. And we will abide in Your presence, forever. Lord, quickly come! Amen.