Sermon Recording for Thanksgiving Eve – Nov. 25, 2020

 

+ Thanksgiving Day – November 26th, 2020 +

Deuteronomy 8:1-10; Philippians 4:6-20; Luke 17:11-19

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church

Milton, WA

 

“Thanksgiving in the Wilderness”

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

One of the great blessings in reading and hearing the Old Testament is that the more we read the Scriptures the more we discover that, despite living thousands of years apart in a different culture and place, with different languages, we are not all that different from Old Testament Israel. God’s words through His servant Moses reveals just how much we in the new Israel of God’s church have in common with Israel.

 

Remember all that took place in the lives of God’s people leading up to these words in Deuteronomy 8. God’s people suffered 400 years in bondage and slavery in Egypt. God’s people witnessed the 10 plagues that YHWH sent against the Egyptians. God’s people wandered 40 years in the wilderness. Hungry. Thirsty. Anxious. Afraid. Angry. At times so much so that they preferred slavery in Egypt to freedom in YHWH’s promises.

 

I’m sure it was tempting for Israel to think that God had abandoned them just as they feared all along. That he had brought them out into the wilderness to die.

 

Tempting for us to think the same thing as we sit here in 2020, a year that (and this is the PG version) has a dumpster fire for a mascot. Thankfully, 2020 hasn’t lasted anywhere near 400 years, although it sure has felt long, and hard. We’ve watched the news as this dreadful pandemic has swept across our nation, and the world, separating us from those we love most when we want to be near them most. We’ve talked on the phone or waved through a window to friends and family we long to hug and hold close. Many people we know have fallen ill, others have died. We’ve let arguments over politics, masks, and social distancing dominate our hearts and minds and conversations with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ instead of Christ’s love for one another.

 

To be sure, all these things are far different than what Israel experienced. And yet it’s tempting to think that God has abandoned us, just as Israel feared God had abandoned them. We find ourselves hungering and thirsting, longing for something better. Like Israel we are anxious. Afraid. Perhaps even angry. What could we possibly have to give thanks for this year?

 

Here again, we have something in common with Old Testament Israel. YHWH sent Moses to tell His people.

 

you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.  And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. 

 

In spite of themselves, God loved His people Israel. God never abandoned Israel. God’s people marked their doorposts with the blood of the Passover Lamb. God’s people were released from slavery in Egypt. God’s people God’s people walked through the Red Sea on dry ground and saw the destruction of Pharaoh’s army. God’s people received His commandments and covenant. God fed his people. God gave them water to drink. Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years. 

 

You see, God wasn’t leading Israel aimlessly through the wilderness, he was leading them to himself. To His promised land where one day he would bring about His promised Savior in Jesus. Yes, there was testing and humility and repentance along the way. But more importantly, there was forgiveness, promise, and redemption. Finally, after 40 years in the wilderness God led them to the borders of the promised land.

 

a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.

 

In spite of ourselves, God loves us as well. God has not abandoned you. You are his beloved, blood-bought, baptized people. His new Israel. His holy people. His treasured possession. A kingdom of priests clothed in the holiness and righteousness of Jesus our great high priest. For you have been released from bondage to sin and death forever. The blood of Jesus your Passover Lamb atones for all your sin. You have crossed through the Red Sea of the font. Satan’s chariots lie vanquished. Jesus feeds you not with manna or quail, but with his holy body and blood – the bread of life; the true bread from heaven.

 

For all the commandments we’ve broken, Jesus was broken in death on the cross for you. For all the times we’ve been anxious, afraid, and angry Jesus stood in the breach of God’s wrath for you. To surround you with his peace. To fill you with his joy. To give you His life.

 

Yes, there is testing in this life too. In many ways we are still in the wilderness this Thanksgiving, as we await the true and eternal promised land. But the new creation is on the horizon. We’re on the very borders of the new heavens and the new earth. God’s eternal country is in view and even today in 2020, there is much for which we are thankful, just as there was for Israel in Deuteronomy 8.

 

Clothing on our backs. Shoes on our feet. A roof over our heads. Food on our table, in the fridge, and freezer. Family. Friends. And more blessings than we could possibly number.

 

The same is true here in our Lord’s house. We’re surrounded by brothers and sisters in Christ. We’re gathering into Jesus’ church, a holy ark around us. We have Jesus’ Word, our lamp and light. Jesus’ baptism, our Exodus. Jesus’ body and blood, the true and greater Passover. An everlasting thanksgiving meal.

 

It’s true; this Thanksgiving day, and every day, we have a lot in common with Old Testament Israel. Especially in Jesus.

 

In Jesus we receive God’s good and gracious gifts. In Jesus we thank and praise God for his gifts. In Jesus, we lack nothing.

 

A blessed Thanksgiving to each of you…

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

Church Office Hours

Monday - Thursday 8:30am-3:30pm

Friday 8:30am-11:30am

The office is closed on Fridays during the summer months of June, July, and August.

Preschool Office Hours

August - May
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
8:30am-12:30pm

By appointment only June and July

Contact

Address
2306 Milton Way
Milton, WA 98354
Phone
(253) 922-6977
Fax
(253) 922-6977
E-mail
staff@mybslc.com