We heard this reading from the letter to the Philippians: “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”. (Philippians 4:6-7)
And, we read from the psalms this message of encouragement: “Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise; give thanks to him and call upon his Name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his faithfulness endures from age to age”. (Psalm 100:3-4)
In our collect this evening we heard this admonition: “Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need”,
My takeaway from these passages is this: In our collect, we are admonished to give thanks for the fruit of our labors and the necessities and blessings that come our way. And we are encouraged to be thankful for the Lord meeting our own needs, but then we are called upon to meet the needs of others who are less fortunate. Many of us have been on both sides of this table. On one side of the table is the giver, and the other is the one who receives. For most of us it’s much easier to feel comfortable being on the giving side of the table rather than the receiving side.
For this give and take to work, there must be a thankful heart on both sides of the table. If you give grudgingly, the one who receives does recognize graciousness as well as discrimination. The provision is for two purposes. One, is for our necessities. The second is for the relief of all who are in need. Remember this verse: “God loves a cheerful giver”. (2 Corinthians 9:7) The same is true on the other side of the table. I have seen situations where pride or embarrassment keeps people from receiving. It’s not easy being on the receiving end, especially if in the past, it’s been the other way around.
Just as all abundance comes from the hand of God, so we should expect God to use us, to use each other as the hands of that abundance, as agents of God. Just as we are the hands, the feet, the mouthpiece, the ears of Jesus, so we too become the channels of God’s blessings to others
In our gospel passage this evening, we read: “Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35) Just as Jesus blesses us with food for our bodies, let us not forget that our souls need food too. The Psalmist says: “Taste and see, that Lord is good”. (Psalm 34:8)
Many families have chosen not to get together on Thanksgiving this year, as has my family. I love Thanksgiving dinners. It’s got to be my favorite meal of the year. Sure, I love good cooking, and there’s a lot of that in my family, but I especially love getting together with family and friends and to spend time enjoying the blessings of the Lord, and in all things “being thankful” for what God has done in our lives. We will not be getting together with our extended family this year, and we have no plans to come together on Christmas.
I am grateful for the blessings I have enjoyed this year, but I am also sorrowful for quarter of a million people that have lost their lives to Covid-19 since March of this year. This will not be a joyful time for those families. This is also a time to remember those that have suffered loss of life though cancer and other ways. It is a time to remember those suffering from physical and mental health issues.
From our reading in Philippians:“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”. (Philippians 4:6-7) How do we put this into practice when there is so much tragic news every day, a killing pandemic, polarizing politics, and people sharply divided in our nation as I have never seen before in my lifetime?
You’re right. I can’t fix that. My prayer for you is that you may experience the deep peace of God, and may that peace permeate deep within your hearts and minds. This is a peace that transcends the negativity in your life. It doesn’t mean that the problems will go away or disappear like magic. What is does mean is God wants you to experience a deep peace which surpasses all understanding, and that peace will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.