Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Thursday, November 26, 2015
I Will Sing to the Lord - November 26, 2015 - Thanksgiving Eve - Text: Ps. 104:24, 27-28, 30, anti. 33
Although Thanksgiving Day is not really a religious holiday nor a church holiday, it would seem fitting that we as Christians would want to celebrate and give thanks to our great God who is so gracious to us and who provides for all our needs to be met. After all the talk over the past few months about how bad things are here in the United States, it might be fitting for us as we celebrate a national day of Thanksgiving to look at how blessed we truly are. For our purposes, the online government website defines the poverty level as just under $12,000 for a single person and just under $16,000 for a family. In a recent article in the Summit Journal, the following was written: “In 1971, only about 32 percent of all Americans enjoyed air conditioning in their homes. By 2001, 76 percent of poor people had air conditioning. In 1971, only 43 percent of Americans owned a color television; 97 percent of poor people owned at least one in 2001. In 1971, microwave ovens were in 1 percent of American homes; 73 percent of poor people had one in 2001. Forty-six percent of poor households own their homes. Only about 6 percent of poor households are overcrowded. The average poor American has more living space than the average nonpoor individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens and other European cities.” I find it amazing that so many people, myself included, can complain even though we have it so well, especially compared to so many people who have little or nothing around the world. So much for being content with food and clothing.
In our text for today, the Introit, the Psalmist proclaims the creating power of God, “24O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures” (v. 24). Contrary to what is being taught and believed by some, the world did not simply come into existence out of nothing by itself. Even looking at the facts of science, nothing like this has ever been observed as happening, something coming into existence by itself. The Psalmist solves our dilemma of how the world came into being by telling us that the Lord made the world.
The world did not evolve. The world did not come into existence by itself, rather God was the prime mover. God was there at creation and He tells us how it happened. God called all things into being. God said and it was so. God created all things out of nothing. And God created human beings out of the dust of the ground, breathing into his nostrils the breath of life and we became living beings.
We know we are special because we were planned and created. We are special because we are known by our Creator God. We are responsible and accountable because there is an ultimate Authority, our Creator. But, not only did our God create us, He still takes care of us.
Continuing on in our text, the Psalmist proclaims the preserving and sustaining power of God, “27These all look to you, to give them their food in due season. 28When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things. 30When you send forth your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground” (v. 27-28, 30). God did not create, wind up and leave. Some have suggested that God is like a clock maker who makes clocks, winds them up, sells them and has nothing more to do with them. God is not like that, rather He is a God who continues to sustain and preserve us, giving us all that we need to support our body and life.
Notice God gives all that we need, not necessarily all that we want, although I would suggest that for many of us in this country we do have all that we need and more, even much of what we simply may want. Think about all we have. Do we really need ten pairs of shoes? Do we really need ten pairs of pants, ten shirts, and so forth? Do we really need a telephone or for everyone in the family to have a telephone? Would we die without a car? Could we not walk or take public transportation? There are people in other parts of the world who do not have all things necessities of life as we call them and they live day to day. If we are honest with ourselves we must admit we do have it pretty good.
But even more than these “necessities” of life as we call them, these physical blessings is the fact that God gives us according to our greatest need. God gives us faith, forgiveness and life. We have talked about this before, the greatest need we have is forgiveness of sins because without forgiveness we would be left in our sins and we would be eternally condemned. But with forgiveness there is life and salvation.
Finally, in our text the antiphon focus us on our song of praise, “33I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being” (v. 33). The antiphon is the verse that comes before and after the psalm and frames the psalm, the introit if you will. The antiphon is our response of faith which is to praise the Lord for all His good gifts and blessings. Certainly this does not come natural for us, a response of thanks, because of our nature, our sinful nature, that we are conceived and born in sin and every inclination of our heart is evil all the time, our response is more often than not a desire for more. Yet, our Lord who gives all, also works in us a response of thanks and praise.
Truly, our response of faith is to live as priests. Remember, God’s first call is to faith. God’s second call is to vocation and according to the vocation God calls us to, we are to live our lives as living sacrifices to the Lord, that is what a priest does, offers sacrifice and that is what we do as members of the priesthood of all believers, we offer our lives as living sacrifices.
What does this mean? First and foremost, we get our theology right when we get our words right, when we get it right as to who is doing what, or as you have heard me say, when we know who is running the verbs. God is the prime mover. God does and God gives. To get a really good understanding of how much God does and gives, you simply need to take out your catechism and look up the Apostles’ creed and look at the explanations to each article. It is amazing how well Luther lays out all the good gifts and blessings the Lord gives for which we are to be thankful.
First and foremost, God is the prime mover. He gives first and we are given too. As we look at the articles of the creed you will notice that God gives life, forgiveness and faith. As Christians we know that God has given each of us life at conception and He has given us new life through the waters of Holy Baptism. Certainly we know that we are loved by God. And again, we are done to and given to.
Not only does God give to us, but because of our inability even to respond, that is even our sanctification has its roots in God’s doing. It is God who moves in us our response of faith, our praise. You probably learned in confirmation that when it comes to justification God does it all, but when it comes to sanctification, we are doing some of the doing. The fact is, God is the prime mover in sanctification as well. And here we get back to the fact that we know we get our theology right when we have God running the verbs, when we have God as the prime mover, when God is the one doing the doing.
This evening, on the eve of our national celebration of Thanksgiving how fitting it is that we, as Christians, first come to give thanks to the Lord for all His benefits to us. How fitting that we take the time to take stock, if you will, of our own lives and all the many good gifts and blessings our Lord has seen fit to give to us. Certainly we rejoice and praise the Lord for His gift of life, given to us at conception, for His gift of faith, given to us at our Baptism, for His gifts of forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. We also give thanks for all physical good gifts and blessings He gives to us, food and drink, clothing and shoes, house and home, fields and cattle, wife and children, and the list goes on and on. Yes, our Lord is a great gift giving God and He delights in giving to us. Thanks be to God and to Him be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.