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October 7, 2016

By Rev. Enzo Pelliniimg_6289

“For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.

When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.  Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day.  Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down,  and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied,  then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.  He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock.  He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you.  You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.”  But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today”.

Deuteronomy 8:7-18

On this day we especially want to think on the subject of thanksgiving; and there are many who will think of thanksgiving and celebrate on this date. The question is, “What the origin of this celebration?” What should we be thankful for? Who should be thankful to? And why? We are fortunate because God gives us the possibility, twice a year, once according to European tradition and again under Canadian tradition, of celebrating Thanksgiving Day.

Thousands of people are emigrating from their homes and seeking refuge, especially in Europe; we have seen and read about it in the news lately. They come from countries where they did not live well at all. They are on their way; displaced to countries where they think they will do well. At least that is their hope. They look like the Israelites in the time of Moses. They were fleeing slavery in Egypt, where they had fared very badly. And they were on their way to a country where they would do well. Thus God had promised. And this promise is in today’s reading. Moses prophesies to the Israelites in the name of the Lord that in the Promised Land they will have all riches that they long for: water, wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, honey, and cattle, copper, silver and gold…
And this is also true historically for many of you here who immigrated to Canada after the destruction of Europe during the Second World War; and people did not just settle in Canada, but throughout the entire American continent. Many of us, or our ancestors, were not only migrants but also refugees. And God gave them a better place as well, like in the story told in today’s reading.

And God has given us prosperity and blessing in our country. While some lament, complain and feel that they are poor, we who are sitting here today are rich compared to the thousands of refugees that are wandering in Europe and many other parts of the world. And as Moses told them about the prosperity that Israel would have in the future, so we can say that God has given to us richly in every way.

A Christian who suffers shortcomings knows what to do: to pray. You must ask God for help. But a Christian living with prosperity often forgets what to do: they should thank God.
Moses said, “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.” How good that we have a date in the church calendar to give thanks for the harvest! And even here in our midst we can celebrate twice! At least we will be able to remember twice a year what to do with the prosperity we have: Praise God and thank Him!

A Christian thanksgiving is not just singing and prayer. In our reading of the Bible we see there that all has to be included. Moses summed it up with the phrase: “But be careful that you do not to forget the Lord your God.”
Thank and think are words that are not only similar in their spelling, but also their meaning when it comes to Thanksgiving. In this sense these two verbs are related. Not only should we not forget God, but we must also think about God. And those who realize to thank for all the good they have should think on three important aspects:

Firstly, we must think about whom it is that has given us prosperity. Perhaps you can say: Everyone knows that everything comes from God. But it is not always so with everyone. Many of our contemporaries think that they have achieved everything through their hard work; and many attribute to themselves the right that a large portion belongs to them. This mistake is not new; and Moses had warned them and said, “You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me. But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.”

Secondly, we must remember that God has given us our earthly riches. Moses makes them Israelites remember about God’s salvation: God had delivered them from the bondage of evil powers and fed them with manna, which is food from heaven, in the wilderness. In the new covenant, manna corresponds to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus is our manna, our bread from heaven, for he is the true bread of life, he freed us from the bondage of the devil. When we hear his voice and accept his holy meal, we are strengthened in our faith for eternal life. Our external prosperity is the temporal blessing of God, and he can even withdraw it tomorrow, but eternal life is an unforgettable gift for all who believe in him. And that is what we think of on Thanksgiving Day, the harvest and Canadian Thanksgiving, the blessing of the harvest and the thousands of even more valuable heavenly gifts God has given us through his only begotten Son.

Thirdly, we must reflect on what God has entrusted us with. It would be wrong to thank God for all his earthly and heavenly gifts, but not respect His commandments. That would be bad gratitude and would show a lack of confidence in him. That’s why Moses urged the Israelites: “Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day.” That’s why we want to remember the Ten Commandments, and especially the greatest commandment of love, that we must love God above all and our neighbor as ourselves. That’s why the topic of giving always comes together on the day of thanksgiving.

Today’s slogan of celebration is: “All good gifts come from God.”
There are so many things that are taken for granted by us: a roof over our head, clothes, enough food, and drinkable water. And only when we lack these things do we realize that we have lived very well until then!

A pearl diver sought worldwide for the most expensive pearl. One day, not knowing how, he found a great, beautiful and expensive-pearl, like the one he had dreamt of.
When he saw it he was sad, because he realized it could never be his; because he did not have enough money. And then the owner of the pearl appeared. He realized his sadness and said, “You can have that pearl.” — “But I never could pay it.” —- “But wait, just give me what you have.” If you have a lot, give me everything you have. If you have little, give me the little you have. Only what you have, that’s the price of the pearl. Do you want it? “

The man nodded happily. Then the pearl seller went on: “What do you have?” – “Oh, I do not have much, I do not know exactly. Maybe five thousand dollars in my bank account, for reserves.”- “Well, said the pearl seller, then it is mine. Do you have something else? “- Yes, some cash in my wallet, to move.” – “Well, it also belongs to me. Do you have anything else? “- ” I do not know if I have more.” – “Well, where do you live?” – “Oh, I live in our house ” – Do you have a house? Then it also belongs to me. – “Oh, then we will have to live in our weekend cottage!” – Oh, do you also have another weekend house? Good, it also belongs to me — “Oh where will we sleep? We have to sleep in our trailer.” – Oh, do you also have a trailer? And a car? — Yes, but nothing fancy”— “That also belongs to me.” – But then I’ll be on the street with my wife and children!” – ” They also belong to me. “But, that’s all that I have!” — And you also belong to me. And now I give you this pearl, but listen: I allow you to have the house that belonged to you, although it is now mine, you can continue living there. But do not forget that that is my house; you are now the manager of that house. You can go on living there with your wife, but that is my marriage. Now live by my rules with your wife and your children. You can also have the weekend house and the car and what you have in your wallet, I give it all to you to manage.”

Yes, it is so. And perhaps we should repeat again and again, regularly and out loud in front of our family, the prayer of grace that we all know well. But do we do it?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said: “We prevent God from giving us his great spiritual gifts prepared for us because we do not give thanks for daily gifts.”
We must think carefully regarding this: “All good gifts, all we have comes from you, O God.” Yes everything we have comes from God. He gave us these things that we manage. He entrusted them to us so that we manage them responsibly.

Of course God is deserving of our thanks, but He is asking firstly for our life, our complete surrender to Him, this is the first step towards a genuine, honest and grateful heart.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, God wants the best for us. He wants us to live with prosperity; He wants to give to us richly. So let us also thank him richly and not forget these three things: first, we have to thank for everything; second, that he also gives us, in addition to the earthly gifts, even more precious heavenly gifts; third, that we must remember his commandments and advice.
Let us also thank him for entrusting to us a church. And this is not just a special responsibility to maintain and promote the growth of a church, but also a privilege we have, just because God still allows us to do it.
Let us think that we have a congregation that we must maintain with the same measure of prosperity that God has given us. That’s what God asks of us, and He expects us to also be faithful also in this respect.
Give thanks to the Lord for he is good and his love endures forever! Amen.

One Comment leave one →
  1. margkahl permalink
    October 7, 2016 8:41 am

    Thank you! Nice Thanksgiving decorations, the ladies did a great job. Blessings Margaret

    Margaret the Joyfull Beader


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