First Reading Deuteronomy 8:7-18
For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron and from whose hills you may mine copper. You shall eat your fill and praise the Lord your God for the good land that he has given you.
Take care that you do not forget the Lord your God, by failing to keep his commandments, his ordinances, and his statutes, which I am commanding you today. When you have eaten your fill and have built fine houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks have multiplied, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, then do not exalt yourself, forgetting the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, an arid waste-land with poisonous snakes and scorpions. He made water flow for you from flint rock, and fed you in the wilderness with manna, to humble you and to test you, and in the end to do you good. Do not say to yourself, ‘My power and the might of my own hand have gained me this wealth.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, so that he may confirm his covenant.
The Word of our Lord.
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come into his presence with singing.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he that made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him, praise his name.
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures for ever,
and his faithfulness to all generations. Amen.
Second Reading Philippians 4:4-9
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
The Word of our Lord.
The Holy Gospel according to Saint Luke 17:11-19
On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ When he saw them, he said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, ‘Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ Then he said to him, ‘Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.’
The Gospel of our Lord.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Wow – what a year we all have been living through. Seriously – what a year 2020 has turned out to be. This year has certainly been taking all of us on one wild – weird – and not so very wonderful ride – hasn’t it?
This year has been filled with all sorts of changes. And almost all of these changes are ones we wish we hadn’t needed to make.
The masks – the social distancing. Needing to stay safely at home day after day after day with the same people (or no people at all) for months now. The gallons of hand sanitizer. Working from home. Zoom Sunday school (which is actually a ton of fun.) School from the dining room and the basement or your bedroom.
No trips to the mall or the movie theater or anywhere really. No hanging out with friends. No sports.
We had hoped canceling in-person worship because of Covid-19 was behind us – but sadly – it is not.
That innocent sneeze or cough in the grocery store now causes everyone in the entire store to turn and stare.
And we have been at this for months now. (It has been 254 days and counting since March 13th when Jefferson County Public Schools sent the McFarland sons home to Jason and me. And told us we had to keep them – apparently FOREVER!)
It feels like we have given up so much this year. We have let go of so many activities and traditions that are dear to us. We skipped Easter worship and Easter gatherings with family. We said no to Derby parties and graduation celebrations. We toned down Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. We passed up Fourth of July fireworks and picnics. We canceled vacation Bible school. We skipped summer vacations to the beach and our annual Labor Day cookouts.
But still the pandemic has spread and spread and spread some more.
And now Thanksgiving is upon us. I think most of us naively assumed – imagined – hoped this horrible virus would be under control by Thanksgiving. But the Covid-19 numbers continue to rise dramatically. Covid-19 is spreading. And more of our friends and our neighbors and our loved ones are getting sick.
So we are all being strongly advised to choose a different sort of Thanksgiving this year. We are being asked to sacrifice to keep our loved ones and ourselves safer. We are being asked to travel less and Zoom more. We are being advised to keep our masks firmly in place and our Thanksgiving gatherings very small.
We are being asked to make real sacrifices.
And so you may be approaching this Thanksgiving feeling not particularly celebratory. You may be feeling exhausted and just plain fed up with Covid-19.
You may be feeling grumpy and annoyed with staying safe at home.
You may be feeling sad – because your Thanksgiving won’t be anything like you wish it could be.
You may be just plain angry you can’t have the Thanksgiving you want to have with the folks you long to see.
Perhaps you simply aren’t feeling particularly thankful. You may even be wondering what on earth any of us has to be thankful for. . . After all living through a global pandemic has a way of making a person feel less thankful than usual.
And yet – here we are. Thanksgiving has arrived. Thanksgiving is upon us whether we are feeling happy about or pleased with the situation or not.
I suppose we could just ignore the holiday. We could just pretend Thanksgiving wasn’t happening and move right on to Christmas like all of the retail stores want us to. We could act like Thanksgiving simply didn’t make it onto our 2020 calendars. We could act like this upcoming Thursday was just another day in quarantine – but I would assert that we would do so at our peril. It would be a mistake to ignore Thanksgiving this year.
This year of all years – we each need to pause and to think deeply about what we have to be thankful for. We need to consider God’s blessings to us.
Yes – this year has been challenging. Yes – we have made so many changes. Of course the news is scary and sad. Yes – we are fed up. But none of this means our lives are devoid of God’s blessings. None of this means God has forgotten us or forsaken us.
None of this means we don’t have blessings from God for which we can be truly thankful.
Our Bible readings this week are all about giving thanks. And each of them remind us we are called to give God thanks throughout our lives. We are called to be grateful people. We are called to remember God blesses us over and over again. Even now – in the middle of this wretched global pandemic – our Lord has continued to bless us.
As God’s people we are called to give God thanks for his blessings to us.
And so I ask you when was the last time you gave thanks for all of those things we so often take for granted?
When was the last time we gave God thanks for the clothes on our backs – the air we breathe – the food in our refrigerators – the water we drink – the homes we live in and the people in our lives?
Or for our jobs, our church, our children’s faithful teachers, and our brothers and sisters in Christ?
When was the last time we thanked God for forgiving our sins?
When was the last time we remembered to tell God thank you for anything?
It is incredibly easy to forget to say thank you to God for all of the ways he has blessed us – especially now when many of us are feeling disappointed and stressed and sad.
It is easy to take God’s blessing to us for granted. And so I think today is a perfect time to think about all of the ways our Lord has blessed us. Thank God for the ways He has blessed you. Thank God for the big blessings in your life – but also for the small blessings. We are blessed. Truly this is Good News. AMEN.