The Action Of Thanks
November 23, 2022 Creekwood United Methodist Church

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The Action of Thanks

Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 26:1-11 – click here to read –

Years ago when I was a student at Perkins and living in East Dallas I remember studying at a local coffee shop. I had been there for a while, when a young mother and her son came in. The boy was around 7 years old and was intensely playing a portable video game. After ordering their drinks the two sat down at the table next to me. The woman working there brought out their order along with a chocolate chip cookie. She smiled and said, “Here sweetie this cookie is just for you, no charge.” The boy’s focus shifted quickly from his game. His eyes widened, as the cookie was set before him. As soon as the plate hit the table, he shoved the cookie in his face and quickly ate it within seconds. Now imagine the look on the mother’s face. Shocked, she sternly looked at the boy and said, “Alex!! What do you say!?” With chocolate covering most of the boys face, he looked down and said… “Thank you.” This week, God is saying to us, I have given you a great gift – now, what do you say?  We just read how God gave the Israelites a great gift and only asked that in return they offer back their first fruits.

That gift was the gift of a home to a wandering people. In the text, giving thanks to God happens by Israel proclaiming their past as wanderers. In verse five the person offers gifts to God by proclaiming that their ancestor was “A wandering Aramean.” This is a reference to Jacob and his family who lived under persecution and oppression in Egypt. Imagine if we offered a prayer of thanks to God like this in our own context? For myself I would say, “God, my ancestors were wandering Hungarians… with big ears. They fled their country and by your grace escaped from enormous financial hardships. You heard their cry and rescued them to bring them here with a better opportunity to find peace.” The beauty of this passage is that each one of us has a connection to being wanderers. Now maybe your ancestors didn’t have large ears like mine had, but we all have a tie to this wanderer. In proclaiming our own identity as wandering people – we are called to realize something. That is, everything we have taken, built, and accumulated from this land, are things that God has given. We don’t deserve any of it. How do you say thank you to God? Is it by sharing these undeserved gifts with others? We are all wanderers. And as wanderers we are called to hear the cries of others around us and respond. This is because God doesn’t sit idle when we call out in pain or hurt. No, our God is a God who brings us to a new place where we may be at peace with each other.

How do you say thank you to God? Could it be by offering our own first fruits? Might these fruits be our past or present experiences of being wandering people? That is a harvest we all can share in. The humbling thing about our giving of thanks, is that is doesn’t end with just words. In our text the community giving these first fruits, this act doesn’t end with just talking to God. They are to share the resources with those around them who were very vulnerable and at-risk. As they themselves, once were. Notice this, the people of Israel are not told to just give an offering to God and then go home, watch the Cowboys play football while the turkey is finishing being roasted! No, they are called to share with the Levites who were seeking peace and the foreign aliens who needed refuge from oppression.

How do you say thank you? Our giving of thanks this week calls us to remember, that it is the action of sharing that matters most. This action of thanks especially connects to sharing with those in our community are around us and yearning for community. How are we sharing our resources and our vulnerability with our wider community? A number of folks have offered their presence and service at Samaritan Inn – a new mission partner at Creekwood. That surely is a means of saying thanks to God through sharing time and ourselves with our wider community. So too are connecting with Open Door, Harper Elementary, Share the Love and more. Currently we are in need of volunteers who can share the gift of hospitality to those who will be experiencing Christmas at our church this year through several events. Check out the info below to sign-up. No matter what meal we go to this week – we all are share a commonality as being a wandering people who were at one time in need of love and hospitality.

Thanks be to God – Amen.

Pastor Adam White

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