Wednesday, November 25, 2020

A Thanksgiving sermon

(This was given at a inter-denominational service.)



       Do not 'worry', Jesus says in tonight's gospel. Do not 'worry' about what you should wear or eat. “Worry,” I believe, is the opposite of 'being thankful'. That is why Jesus tells us not to 'worry', because Jesus wants us to be thankful.

       In my tradition of Christianity, we celebrate the “Eucharist” on each of the Lord's days, each Sunday and many other times we gather as the People of God. “Eucharist” in Greek, means “to give thanks”.

       Giving thanks, it seems to me, is the very heart of being a Christian.

       The older I get, I have told people, the fewer things I find I HAVE to 'believe'. I think I've got it down to the basics of my creed.

       *God loves me (and US) unconditionally. Everyone, no matter how twisted, or even evil, is a child of God. I believe that.

       *Treat others as you want to be treated. No matter what. I believe that.

       *Welcome the stranger always, even if the stranger may mean you harm. I believe that.

       *Give to those in need—always and however you can. I believe that.

       *And this: be thankful always, for everything, even things that challenge you and give you pain. Be thankful always, for everything. I believe that.

       Not that many years ago, there was the song and the saying, “Don't worry, be happy.” I would change that to “Don't worry, be thankful. Always.”

       Consider the lilies of the field....Consider the birds of the air....

       Why should we worry? We should be thankful.

       In our Eucharist service, there is a prayer after communion. It is a prayer of thanksgiving. But it is very general. So often, I invite the congregation into a time of silence and ask them to give thanks to God in their hearts and minds, for the many gifts God has given to each of us and all of us.

       In my heart and mind, in that silence, I picture my family and my friends, the people of the congregations I serve and have served, my dog and cat and parakeet, the freedom and prosperity of my life, my life itself, and all the good those I know and love have done in this dark-ling world. I sometimes give thanks for Key Lime Pie and sausage gravy and biscuits, but the seems a little selfish.

       But that's the thing—being thankful for God's goodness isn't selfish at all. Key Lime Pie and sausage gravy and biscuits are gifts that merit our thanks.

       Remember, in my short list of beliefs, I said to be thankful for everything, always.

       It pains me, in a way, that we get so involved in being thankful in November of each year when we should be 'thankful to everything, always'. All the time. Every moment of life, we should be thankful.   


       Don't worry, be thankful.

       Consider the lilies of the field, consider the birds of the air...they do not worry, they do not fret. And we are worth more to God than flowers or birds.

       Be thankful.


       I practice the prayer of the heart—also known as the “Jesus Prayer”.

       It is a prayer of breath—and since we breathe always, we can pray always.

       The Jesus Prayer goes like this: as you inhale, you say in your mind and heart, “Jesus Christ, Son of God” and as you exhale you say, “have mercy on me a sinner.”

       It's that simple, as simple as breathing, which we do all the time.

       But some time ago, being an Episcopalian and not being fond of being reminded I am a sinner, I changed the way I prayed the Jesus prayer.

       I started saying, in my heart and mind, as I inhaled, “Lord Jesus Christ” and as I exhaled “thank you so very much”.

       When I'm driving, I pray that. I give thanks with every breath.


       We should, I think, give thanks, not just at this time of year, but with every breath.


       Why don't we try it for a minute or so? Join me in paying attention to your breathing, what keeps you alive. We should give thanks for breath as for so many things.

       Join me for a while.

       When you breathe in say in your heart and mind: “Lord Jesus Christ”. And as you exhale say in your heart and mind: “thank you so much”.

       Let's try it, if you don't mind.

       Inhale: “Lord Jesus Christ”.

       Exhale: “thank you so much”.


       Happy Thanksgiving to you all. Give thanks always. Don't 'worry', give thanks.




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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.