A Thanksgiving Sermon

…..and for everything else, thanks!

November 27th, 2008


“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3:20-21


   (Much of the material for this sermon was taken  from the Creative communication 2008 Thanksgiving packet titled ….and for everything else, Thanks)


Gary Schindler, was a typical school counselor.  He supervised the various career assessment tests at school, and he even taught a government course, if I remember correctly.  While he wasn’t a poor teacher, I don’t remember him being all that outstanding either.  However, during my Senior year he sent me this note  (read the encouraging note).  He didn’t have to do that, but it was that extra little statement that meant the world to me.   When it comes to God’s blessings, you could say that everything we have is an extra, an undeserved special gift from our creator, redeemer and sanctifier.  While that is absolutely the truth, this morning we are going to focus on this God of the extra’s.  As our text says he goes beyond what we can ask or imagine.  


"And for everything else ..." Everything else besides what? Where did our thanksgiving START? What are we already thankful for that we're building on now? I suppose you already know the answers to those questions. In fact, we started today's service with those basic things ... those fundamentals. That's what the three "Antiphons of Thanks" were all about. They celebrated the things we gather together to thank God for every year, every week, and yes even on a daily basis.   These three fundamentals, foundation gifts are Providence,  Salvation, and Guidance.  


Earlier we heard the Psalmist speak of Antiophon’s, or Psalms spoken in a response fashion.  Today’s Antiophon’s spoke of these fundamental gifts for which we are to be thankful.  In case you missed it they were Trinitarian in nature. 


The first antiphon spoke of God’s providence.  The

primary job of the Father, as Creator and preserver is to provide for all people, believer and unbeliever alike, food, home, shelter, health, family, daily work, and the list goes on.  He does this daily The difference between the unbeliever and believer is that the believer knows who butters his bread.


The second Antiphon speaks of Salvation.   As you well know all is not right with this world, all is not right with ourselves.  Sin, which is not only wrong action, but also misplaced trust, is a vexing problem that simply cannot be ignored or solved on our won.  Our Lord Jesus Christ, came to earth, born in poverty, to rescue an impoverished humanity. He preached to redeem a rebellious people. He suffered a Slave, to save those enslaved in suffering. He died to reroute the death-bound. He rose from the grave to open all graves. Yet God's saving plan began long before the Babe was laid in the manger. Leaf through the pages of the Old Testament and you will find God's often-whispered but always profound plan for salvation winding its way through the lives of his chosen people. That well-laid plan led to the cross ... and will lead at last to forever and ever, amen. Salvation: Our God saves. Thank God!  This is another glorious fundamental of our faith. 


     And Guidance. What would we do without the Spirit's strong and ever-present guidance? This Counselor blew into the Church with fire and mighty wind on Pentecost morning. This heavenly Breeze broods over the waters of the font as each member of God's family is plunged into the bracing waters of baptism. This strong and certain Guide leads us here to grow in Christian fellowship, to dine on heavenly food, to share the Word of God. This Hound of Heaven drives God's people throughout the world to heal, to feed, to bring justice, to baptize, to spread the great Good News of Christ. Our God guides. Thank God for the fundamental guidance of the Holy Spirit!


Our greatest needs are not provided for, thank God for the fundamentals of our life. Providence, Salvation, and guidance. 





Yet, he who gives abundantly more than we can ask or imagine gives us O so much more.  Our readings today express this.  Solomon simply asked for reason to lead God’s people.   He saw himself as a child when it comes to leadership, and the responsibilities of leading these people way to great.  With all this in mind he asked for wisdom, and what did God give.  He gave him extra’s.  he gave him wealth, and just as significant honor.   “Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor all your life; no other king shall compare with you." To this day, three thousand years since his reign, the term "richer than Solomon" still exists in our cultural lexicon--a phrase denoting   "so much more" riches.



St. Paul basks, too, in the ".and for everything else extra’s of the" grace of God.  Even from a jail cell in Rome, God's great grace cannot be contained. Paul speaks of a great mystery made known: The opening of God's family to all the Gentiles and all the world! He uses phrases like "the boundless riches of Christ," and "the wisdom of God in its rich variety," and even "access to God" himself!  He talks about the love of Christ which has a boundless height, depth, and width.  He then realizes that this God of the extras will simply do more than the fundamentals, he will give us more than we ask or imagine.  Amazingly he writes all this from a jail cell.  Though outwardly he has so little, in Christ Jesus he has everything and then some.  


In our gospel reading we see the extra’s being played out for the prodigal son, as the Father in whom the son rebelled against, welcomes him back with a robe, a ring, and a party.  He welcomes him back with the best he has to offer, and then some.   The son had received more than he deserved--his entire inheritance before his father had even passed away. He had squandered it all. But when he returns, there is a robe ... and a ring ... and a royal banquet!


     Oh, the opulent, extravagant, lavish, over-the-top, too-much love of our God!  It has been there for you, and it will be there for you.  As we receive God’s fundamental gifts of Word, Gospel, and meal this morning, also call to mind the many “extra’s”, your Lord bestows in your life.   You won’t remember them all, but that is not as important as knowing the one who gives them.  To him, Father, Son , and Holy Spirit be glory both now and forevermore.  Amen.