Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Day

November 24, 2010 Eve of Thanksgiving Day
RCL Philippians 4: 4-9; John 6: 25-35

Good evening to all, as we are here on this Eve of Thanksgiving Day and gathering not only for ourselves in this moment but on behalf of all our wider parish family first of all—those travelling in the holiday weekend, those coming together with family and friends—and lifting up in prayer our Church and the larger Christian family, our neighborhood and this wider community and our nation and all the wide world. The whole of creation, resting in the arms of our Creator and Redeemer.

Interesting that in the liturgical directions for Thanksgiving Day the Proper Preface of the Eucharistic Prayer, the sentence at the beginning of the prayer that indicates the theme or season, the Proper Eucharistic Preface is the one prescribed for Trinity Sunday. “For with your co-eternal Son and Holy Spirit, you are one God, one Lord, in Trinity of Persons and in Unity of Being; and we celebrate the one and equal glory of you, O Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

The message for us seems to be the one so often repeated, I believe first used generally in the Twelve Step movement:

Remember to keep the main thing the main thing.

All these competing strands of our life coming together in this holiday. Food, football, family. More food. And then apparently for many there will be a just few hours of sleep, and then long drives up to Grove City for the 3 a.m. outlet store openings. The first wave in the coming storm of hyper-consumerism, I guess, even in this still very fragile economy. All that, and as we take care of our last minute holiday preparations this evening and tomorrow morning, this word from Jesus in St. John’s gospel. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life.

It happens that this Thanksgiving service is the last service at St. Andrew’s in this Church Year, as we will be all ready to go for the new year and Advent Sunday this coming Sunday morning. And the message for us is about how we would see our priorities, our concerns—how we would organize ourselves day by day in the New Year ahead.

James Carville had that saying over the campaign room in the Clinton for President headquarters back in 1992: “It’s the economy, stupid.” A reminder to the candidate not to go off message. That people will vote their pocketbook, their own self-interest.

And if that’s generally true, then we hear this evening and would be called to represent with our lives something countercultural. Food that endures for eternal life. And what does that mean? What does it look like? We sort that out along the way, of course. No easy answers. In the light of his resurrection, conforming our lives to the cruciform shape of his. Seeking not to find our own way, but to follow in his footsteps.

Paul has this wonderful moment in the Philippians passage appointed for this evening. A clue for us, perhaps. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.

I’m not sure we’ve always—or even ever—done a good job of this. Arguments, mean-spiritedness, mutual disregard, self-centeredness, even violence, so much a part of our Christian past and our Christian present. No question about it. But we would at the end of this year just pause. In thanksgiving at Thanksgiving. To lift up in the feast of this world, the food that endures for eternal life. To make his way our way. The Lord is near. Advent Sunday just ahead. The Lord is near. Let your gentleness be known to everyone.

And all blessings in the holiday ahead.

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