Scheduled for November 23
week brings us to Thanksgiving, the truly American holiday. It has been
defined as the day on which one species of turkey stops gobbling so that
another may start.
you ever considered how many ways we use the expression, “Thank you?” There
are many more, but consider this little progression. Pay particular attention
to the idea of a sense of obligation.
we use it as a social lubricant. When you make a purchase, and the clerk hands
you your change, you say “thank you.” Now, the clerk actually owes you the
money; both of you expect that she will give it to you, and in fact you are
getting exactly what you deserve. Still, you say “thank you.” It is a social
courtesy, a way of acknowledging that you are satisfied with the transaction.
There is, however, no sense of obligation.
however, a little different case. The salesman at the car dealership also says
“thank you” when you purchase your new car. Again, there is an exchange of
value; again, you are getting what you paid for and the dealership is getting
its money. But the salesman knows you did not have to purchase the car at that
particular dealership. “Thank you” means that he knows that; you had a choice
and made it in his favor. The two sides are still equal, in money, but there
is a little more sense of obligation.
as originally celebrated, extends this concept. God is under no obligation to
the farmer to provide rain at the right time; to protect from hail and the
elements. The farmer depends upon the elements. The Pilgrims felt that God
had done them a favor; he had been gracious to them. True, they had worked
the soil, planted the crops -- but having put the seed in the ground, they
depended on God for the growth. The sense of obligation is much deeper now
is a much greater case, however, which we celebrate at Communion. God was not
only under no obligation to send his son to the cross, He had every good reason
not to. We were (and are) sinners; he is a just and righteous God. He owes
us nothing; we borrow the very idea of existence from the great I AM. Yet,
while still sinners, Christ came and became our sacrifice for sin, that we
might become the children of God.
varies by two things: the size of the favor and the extent to which we
deserved it. The favor in this case is eternal life and cleansing from sin;
what greater favor could be bestowed? The extent to which we deserved it? Not
at all. So then, as we take Communion, we should do so with a thankful spirit,
knowing that we did not get what we deserved -- we got His love instead.