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Thanksgiving for the Harvest

October 8, 2017

Is it not to share your food with the hungry

and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—

when you see the naked, to clothe them,

and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Then your light will break forth like the dawn,

and your healing will quickly appear;

then your righteousness will go before you,

and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.

Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;

you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,

with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry

and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,

then your light will rise in the darkness,

and your night will become like the noonday.

The Lord will guide you always;

he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land

and will strengthen your frame.

You will be like a well-watered garden,

like a spring whose waters never fail.

Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins

and will raise up the age-old foundations;

you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,

Isaiah 58:7-12

 

 

We are doing really well in this country. If you could now see how other people in the world are living, maybe you’d have a different point of view of your life here. We are so sated that we don’t need to, for instance, use the harvest fruits that we have around the altar today as food. We are sated every day – not only with bread, but also with meat and with cakes. When we are thirsty, we find enough to drink – not only clean water, but also more refined drinks. We don’t need to freeze, because we have enough clothes – not just warm clothes, but chic things! We all have a roof over our head, a warm house, a bed to sleep on. We have free health insurance, doctors, teachers, friends and people who protect us. Yes, we’re fine. And all this, we owe to God. In the true sense of the word! We would be foolish if we took all that we have for granted. No, we want to thank God, especially today, during ‘Thanksgiving for the Harvest’ .

 

But how do you do it – thank God? An old Church hymn summarizes this well: “Now thank you all our God with heart, and hand and voices!

 

First, we want to thank God with the heart. The heart stands for our inner attitude. A grateful heart realizes that God means good to us. Therefore, a thankful heart cannot be angry with other people. Our preaching tells us what pleases God:

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression”

A grateful heart doesn’t oppress fellow human beings, but loves and does well to them, just as God does to us humans. A grateful heart gives others a better chance instead of taking away something from them. A grateful heart recognizes where others are lacking. Again, our text tells us what pleases God: “And if you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry” Not just from your fridge and your wallet, but with your heart! Yes, this way you can say thank you to God, with the heart: If you love your neighbour from the heart, if you care that they are not oppressed, but if you help them in distress and help with the best of your wealth.

 

Secondly, let us thank God with our hands. For this purpose, too, the text tells us the opposite of what pleases God: “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger” This is not so easy to understand. You can show someone something with a finger! But here it means something else: We shouldn’t threaten anyone with our finger and offend anybody. If the prophet Isaiah would live today, he would perhaps say: Show no one that hard obscene gesture with the finger! We can say thanks with our hands as long as we don’t use them to hurt and offend. In other words, as in the preaching text, it is said, “If you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry.” Grateful hands are working not only for their own wellbeing, but also for the wellbeing of their neighbour, especially when he needs help. If you are employed, you will not only earn your own net income, but also the money for taxes and social contributions. Grateful hands like to do this; they will not get involved in labour under the table labour, because they know that taxes and social contributions are to a large extent benefiting people who also need it.

 

Yes, and then let us thank God with the mouth or with our voice. This doesn’t mean that we take the delicious things that we have harvested into our mouths and eat. No, it is mainly the words that come out of our mouths. There is a whole lot coming out every day, good and sometimes less good, wise words and foolish words; words of faith and words of fear and lack of confidence. Again, our preaching text says what pleases God: don’t have “malicious talk.” A grateful mouth does not mock and curse. A grateful mouth says “thank you” to God and gives credit to God, not human beings, and hope for God firstly, and sometimes he sings to Him out of gratitude. A grateful mouth speaks daily thanksgiving and sings praises. For the people of the ancient Israelites and the Christians of past generations, it was taken for granted that no meal was ever served without thanksgiving. Unfortunately, I notice that saying grace before meals is no longer customary in many families. If there is someone here who does not say grace, I recommend to you for your own good: Get used to it quickly! Let us thank God with our mouth!

 

 

Let us therefore thank God with heart, and hands and voices. God made know to us what pleases Him through the prophet Isaiah. Perhaps you find it a bit odd that for the above-mentioned prophet Isaiah, everything begins with “if”: “If you do away with the yoke of oppression,   with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness… “What follows this” if “? There will be something wonderful, a wonderful “then”, a divine promise:

“Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer”

So God says: If you are grateful with the heart, and hands and voices then God will let all go well in your life. Or, in short, live well, and then you’ll be fine!

And this is not said to an individual, but to a whole people; God speaks here to the people of Israel by means of the prophet Isaiah as if he were a single man. And so we can relate it to our own current church members, and to our entire society:

When we say thank you with heart, and hands and voices, then we will be all right, then we will see a blessing everywhere! But if we are complaining or being disrespectful, then God will remind us that all good gifts come only from him. He can then allow poverty, distress and economic crises to happen in our lives, but it won’t be His fault.

With this, He shows us:

‘Hey, you logical, self-sufficient and smart people, you cannot make your own prosperity, it is still a gift from me!’ Do not forget this, but learn to give thanks every day anew – with heart, and hands and voices. So the advice for today:

Live well, and then you will be fine! Say thanks to God and learn how good he means it with you. Live right, then you will be all right – but it cannot be the other way around. You cannot say that: You are doing well because you have worked hard and well. We would be foolish and arrogant if we thought we deserved this whole harvest, because we are such a decent people. Some think so. And some are even so proud and self-sufficient to suppose, that when they have died once, and stand before God’s judgment, then they might proclaim and say, ‘God, I have lived decently, now let me into heaven!’ No, no one is good enough as to be able to earn heaven by himself. No one has earned anything from God, not satiety in this world, nor eternal life in the other world; it is all mercy and grace. This grace is connected with the Lord Jesus Christ. It is true that Isaiah spoke the words, which we are considering, seven hundred years before Jesus’ birth. But because he was God’s prophet, the name of Jesus is already flashing in his sermon:

“your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday” it says. It is the light of the Lord Jesus Christ that has come into the darkness of the world. It is the light of the Lord Jesus Christ which is reflected in the lives of Christians so that they can be the light of the world. It is the light of the Lord Jesus Christ that enlightens us with true faith and makes us able to express our thanks to God – not only for the harvest and for the things of this world, but also for eternal life. Yes, Christ, is the Light, and makes us able to say thank you with heart, and hands and voices.

Amen.

 

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One Comment leave one →
  1. margkahl permalink
    October 9, 2017 6:57 am

    Thank you for sending! I was blessed and lifted up by it. Will save it to read again. Blessings Margaret

    Margaret the Joyfull Beader 📿

    >

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