Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Eve

November 21, 2007
Chapel of the Resurrection
Gethsemane Episcopal Cathedral
Fargo

John 6.26-35

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

Tomorrow is, of course, Thanksgiving. It is a time in which we can and should think about all the blessings of our lives and express our thanks for them—to God and to one another.

One of my favorite topics on this holiday is the topic of grace. In today’s Gospel, we find Jesus talking about the manna that God sent to the Israelites as they wandered in the wilderness. As we prepare for Thanksgiving—as we think about the blessings of our lives and all the goodness God has given to us, what I find so amazing is how the truly wonderful things in our lives—the things we cherish the most—are the things we haven’t asked for. This is what grace is all about. Grace is that which God gives us even when we haven’t asked for it nor even fully deserve it.

I usually talk about grace at weddings, because, for the most part, marriage is an example of grace in our midst. People come into our lives we don’t ask for, we don’t even know how to ask for, but who are still given to us. And the joy and contentment they bring is the greatest gift any of us can ever expect.

Children are another example of grace. No one fully realizes the blessings a child will give to one’s life until they come into our midst.

There are countless other graces we have in our lives that we are no doubt thankful for. Especially in the cases of marriage and children, these graces change our lives. We are never again who were before they came into our lives.

And that, I think, is the sign of true Grace. True grace transforms us and makes us different—and hopefully better—than who were before.

Probably the greatest grace in our lives—and the one we might not fully appreciate—is the one Jesus speaks of in today’s Gospel. The greatest Grace in our lives, is none other than Jesus himself. For the Israelites, wandering in the wilderness, hungry and anxious, God provided them manna from heaven—bread that literally fell upon them from the sky for them to eat. For us, our Manna is more substantial. Our Manna is the Bread which comes to us to feed us in such a way that we will never feel hungry again. It is the Bread that will not feed this body, which will die on us and be disposed of, but the Bread which will feed our souls, which will feed that part of us which will live forever. The Bread Jesus speaks of in today’s Gospel is Jesus himself. And it is Jesus whom we should be most thankful for.

Jesus’ presence in our life, the fact that in him we see God—God who came to us like manna from heaven, in flesh like our flesh, and who, by dying, destroyed that which we feared the most—death—that is something we didn’t ask for. We are probably unable to even know how to ask for such a gift. And yet, unasked for, Jesus came to us and fed us with his own Body. Unasked for, God provided us with life in a way we still don’t fully appreciate or understand.

Jesus came to us, like manna falling upon us as we wandered about in our personal wilderness, and fed us in a way we didn’t even realized we could be fed. This is the ultimate grace in our midst. This is the ultimate gift for us.

So, tomorrow, as you gather with your loved ones, as you take that time to inventory the blessings and all the good things in your life, don’t forget to be thankful for that ultimate Grace in your life—Jesus who is everything we need and long for and strive for.

Jesus—our Manna from heaven.

Jesus—our living Bread of life.

And thank God for the Grace above Graces, for the Grace that that is him.


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