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Sweet Honesty

Matthew 6:25-30

The Rev. Jon Roberts

26 November

2009

Good Shepherd Episcopal Church

Venice, FL

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life?[a] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith?

Sweet Honesty

The First Thanksgiving by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, 1863–1930

For flowers that bloom about our feet;
For tender grass, so fresh, so sweet;
For song of bird and hum of bee,
For all things fair, we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank thee.

Meister Eckart, a famous German theologian was once quoted, “If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice." But sometimes we don't feel full of thanks. We don't see flowers in bloom or hear the song of a bird. How do we offer thanks if we can't be honest to God?

Once upon a time a 4-year-old boy was asked to return thanks to God before Thanksgiving dinner. The family members bowed their heads in expectation. He began his prayer, thanking the Lord for all his friends, naming them one by one. Then he thanked the Lord for Mommy, Daddy, brother, sister, Grandma, Grandpa, and all his aunts and uncles. Then he began to thank the Lord for the food. He gave thanks for the turkey, the dressing, the fruit salad, the cranberry sauce, the pies, the cakes, and even the Cool Whip. Then he paused, and everyone waited -- and waited. After a long silence, the young fellow looked up at his mother and asked, "If I thank the Lord for the broccoli, won't he know that I'm lying?"

On the traditional American Thanksgiving we commemorate this festive day with complete honesty. 1621 was a harsh year for those pilgrims who settled at the Plymouth plantation. Many of them had died to disease and starvation. Many didn't know if they would make it through the coming winter. Yet, they found a reason to be vulnerable and honest. After so much had been taken from them, they did what many of us would think is unimaginable. They decided to give. This is extraordinary behavior. How did they offer an honest thanks to God, when it was by God's providence they were summoned to leave the security of England, traverse the Atlantic, and cut their way into a desolate wilderness? Simple. When there was nothing else left, there was God. They were at the brink of utter hopelessness. It was by their faith in things believed, yet unseen, that they survived. That is why today we celebrate in the English tongue. That is why today we celebrate and give thanks to the same God they did.

Many of you have come to this city to live out the remainder of your life in retirement. Saying goodbye to your homelands where things were familiar and where you may have grown up. The rest of you are the natives, living out the seasons, the consistent patterns of Florida the best way you know how. Both pilgrims and natives are present. We should be thankful that today we have the same opportunity to break bread together. When we are both put together, we find that each has had their struggles. Each has had to contend with loss. Could it be possible, that when certain people have left our life, it makes room for others to attend?
It is the same with our life in Jesus. He fills in the vacant spots. He looks after us as he would the lilies of the field and finds great value in us. We may not feel like offering thanks to God, but it is a good and sweet moment when we cast aside our worry and always leave room for him at the table. The Eucharist means Thanksgiving.

Let's share and offer thanks together.
For flowers that bloom about our feet;
For tender grass, so fresh, so sweet;
For song of bird and hum of bee,
For all things fair, we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank thee.

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