Thanksgiving Sermon

St. Luke 17:11-19

Ten lepers are healed.  Nine go to make the appropriate sacrifice as required by the law.  One returns to Jesus to give thanks to Him for the healing he has received.

You would therefore expect a rather traditional sermon about how like that one leper, you too should give thanks to the one who provides all things.

But is that not what all ten are actually doing, albeit the one better than the others?  And even so, are you not already giving thanks to the one who provides, both tonight and tomorrow?  Do you really need a sermon telling you that you should give thanks, when you are already giving thanks?

After all, when you find yourself made well after a debilitating illness, you give thanks.  The same when you receive a piece of unexpected good fortune; you give thanks.  The same when something you have worried about for quite some time goes better than expected; you give thanks.  The same when a rain comes after an extended dry period; you give thanks.

We are actually pretty good at giving thanks for the big stuff.

But that is not all for which you give thanks.  Tomorrow as you ponder the many things that you are thankful for, you will no doubt cover a number of things including food, family, work, health, freedom, and this nation.  You will no doubt give thanks for the many blessings that God has bestowed upon you in food and house and home, and even cars and the toys you enjoy in your leisure.

We are actually pretty good at giving thanks for the things we want.

And perhaps as you gather and enjoy the company of others, you will also give thanks for the things that they are thankful for as well.  After all, who does not join in the offering of thanks and praise for the blessings that others have received and now rejoice in?

We are actually pretty good at giving thanks with others for the things they are thankful for.

Like the lepers, and most especially like the leper who returned to the feet of Jesus, we are good at giving thanks when it seems good and right so to do, whether it be once a year on a day of national Thanksgiving, or once a week on Sunday morning, or every so often when a situation obviously demands it.

But how many who gather tomorrow, will give thanks for good roads?  How many will give thanks for trucks and for factories and for processors?  How many will give thanks for stores, including Walmart?  How many thanks will be offered up for the workers in those stores and factories?

That is the part of daily bread that we often forget.  Daily bread is not just the food that sits before you, it is everything and anything that goes into bringing that bread from the grain of wheat planted in the field to the loaf of bread that now sits on your table.

Before each meal we partake of, we bow our heads and give thanks for the food that literally sits before us.  Yet, we often forget to give thanks for the refrigerator that keeps food cool; for the ovens that warm food up; for the gas and electricity that make it all go.  We often forget to give thanks for the tables and chairs we sit at; or for the place we eat in.

For what actually is daily bread?  Daily bread is everything and anything that you need to support this body and life.  Daily bread is all of the First Article gifts that your Father in heaven provides for you; not just the big stuff, not just the stuff you want, not just the stuff that those around you are thankful for, but all the stuff, and all the stuff that goes into getting that stuff to you and keeping that stuff in your care.

It turns out, we are actually not so good at giving thanks for all the stuff that is around us that is a part of our daily bread.

And so on this Thanksgiving, we ask ourselves, what if God dealt with us as we truly deserved.  What if God only granted us only those things for which we had given thanks?

For the leper, he is still healed from his leprosy; but gone are the clothes on his back; gone are the family and friends he now looks forward to being reunited with; gone are the house and home he has dreamed of re-entering once declared clean.

For you?  Well you still have the family and the food you give thanks for; but gone is the car in the driveway that you were thinking of selling; gone is the smooth road that gets you to the doctors; gone too are the trucks and highways that transport goods from here to there.

But that is not how God deals with us.

God does not deal with us according to our hearts that refuse to give thanks except for 1 day a year.  God does not deal with us according to our sins that reject Him and His grace when it is not convenient for us.  Nor does God deal with us as we deserve when our thoughts and actions fail to bring glory to His holy name.

Instead God deals with us as the heavenly Father He truly is.  He provides us with daily bread, and everything that it takes to get that daily bread to our table.  For God does not just provide the meal, He provides the means to grow it, prepare it, serve it, and eat it.

Why does God do this?  Not because there is any goodness or worthiness in any of us; just as there was no goodness or merit in any of those lepers on the side of the road.

Rather He does so out His divine goodness and mercy.  He provides, because out of His great love for us, He refuses to stand by and watch us suffer.

And so He not only provides the daily bread we need to support this body and life, but He also provides His one and only Son, who goes to the cross and suffers and dies for our ungrateful hearts.  God even provides the means of salvation from the mess that we ourselves have created.

What is left for you to do?

Here the cleansed leper provides the perfect example.  He can do nothing for Jesus; he has no gift, no gold, no riches, or even sacrifices, which is fine, for they would hardly be enough anyway.

All this cleansed leper has, are his words and actions, and so that is all he offers.  The leper thanks and praises Jesus, and goes forth to serve and obey Him; that is all he can do; that is all any of us can do.  And thankfully, that is all our Father in heaven asks of any of us.

About revschmidt

An LCMS Pastor in North-Central Kansas
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