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Hebrews 11:1-3, 11:39-12:2; Matthew 6:24-34

Show and Tell

Big word: gratitude.

A tool/hardware organizer. Talk about how empty it can seem if you look at the extra slots, or how full it seems if you pay attention to the slots that are filled. Thanksgiving is a day for noticing what God has given us, and letting the sense of how much that is guide us into sharing with others generously. Gratitude is the big feeling that goes along with that.

Meditation

Here’s what I’m grateful for today: these pink papers with your abundance on them. Last week I invited you to write what you had to share, either with the church or with God’s world more generally. And it’s great.

We don’t always feel so abundant. We know about the many containers in our life that don’t seem to be quite filled up. We run low on money, time, energy, relationships, or even food. Now that the political ads are over, we can’t turn on the TV without being told what we don’t have, what we absolutely must run out and buy. And while some of us might enjoy staying up all night later this week to shop, many of us are more likely to lose sleep over the nagging sense of what we don’t have.

Jesus spoke to a group of people who lived without all they needed. Never mind that his congregation was, on average, far closer to starvation than even the most marginal of us, because the thing about human beings is that we’re remarkably good at worrying no matter how well things are actually going. Perhaps we’re more efficient about it than the first-century peasantry – we don’t have to just worry about tomorrow; we can worry about next week, next billing cycle, next decade when the retirement funds run out, next time we fall, next time the oncologist calls. The farther along we come, the more there is to worry about.

And I’m not just talking about whether the glass is half empty or half full. The fact is that there is never enough for all our worries to cease. Simply accumulating more stuff – or more money – is not the key to freedom from worry. If nothing else, we get to worry about what happens if everything we’ve accumulated is stolen, by identity fraudsters or the vagaries of the market.

That is to say, none of us can find freedom from anxiety by ourselves. But then, Jesus doesn’t say anything about it working that way. He says we can put our trust in God, work toward what God is up to in the world, and let God handle what is needful. And what is God up to in the world? Last I checked, God wills that everyone’s needs can be met and no one should go hungry, homeless, or lonely. Last I checked, the kingdom of God is a reality where there is enough because we all offer ourselves in service to each other. That’s a reality that can and does exist among us when we participate in it.

Sometimes it’s good to stop and notice that reality. That’s where Thanksgiving came from, the need to stop and take note of just what abundance God has given us.

God has given us much. Not to any one of us, but to all of us. These pink papers that indicate what a wealth of compassion, service, and most of all time we’re willing to share with our neighbors, friends, and families in Jesus’ name. Last week we offered:

  • Time, attention, prayers, and encouragement for children, neighbors with extra needs, and the lonely of our community
  • Tangible support – from our kitchens, our gardens, and our checkbooks – for our neighbors directly and through this congregation and mission giving
  • Talents and hard work to support the church programs, music, facility, and activities
  • And a special gift of this congregation – encouragement, understanding, and wideness of vision

So then, surrounded by this great cloud of witnesses, this great abundance of gifts, let’s venture into the new realm of God’s goodness and love. Let’s continue to share, graciously and abundantly, the good things God offers us, now and forever.

Amen.

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