…give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
There is a difference between gratitude and thanksgiving. Gratitude is being thankful for something. Thankful for a nice day. Thankful for your food, or grandma, or puppies. Being thankful is being grateful for whatever it is we have received.
Thanksgiving, on the other hand, is taking that thankfulness and turning it towards the source. Giving our gratitude back towards the one who has given to us. So, think of thank you notes. Grandma gives you a new sweater for Christmas. There is expectation for you to say thank you. Often in writing. Turning your thankfulness towards the actual person.
So to with God. God is a God who gives. That is his nature. He grants to us life, and breath, and salvation. He gives of his hands to us, as the catechism says, “that He has given and still sustains my body and soul, with all my limbs and senses, my reason and all mental faculties…that he daily and abundantly provides for me all the necessities of life.” God handing to us all for which we need to live, and move, and have our being. So, it fits the reasoning that the greatest gift we have, what we need, can only come from him. And so it is with Christ. Our salvation, eternal life, redemption, forgiveness, mercy, all come from the hands of God because nothing is of our own doing except for the necessity itself. The need.
There is a reason why the traditional wording for the Sacrament of the Table is called the Eucharist. It sounds Roman Catholic, but it is a word which means to give thanks. To have our hearts and souls stirred to turn away from ourselves and towards the Lord who gives. It is why you come forward to receive in your hand. Given it by someone else, this focus of our thanksgiving and life – Jesus Christ Himself.
As you approach the end of this church year, and as we come into the season of Advent in December, I ask you, as your pastor, what have you received from God this year? What has caused you to be turned towards the Lord and his giving hands? What has become the motivation of your giving of thanks? For if God has given us all things, as the Scriptures and catechism say, there is nothing you have of life right now for which you cannot give thanks to God for.
For me it is you. I thank God every day for bringing me to you and having the chance to be your preacher. To dispense to you the gifts of God in the Word and Sacraments. Because the act of giving thanks becoming the very center of our life in Christ, because the fullest extent of God’s giving hands came through your Jesus being for you the very gift you need for all of life. Him being your life itself. Thanks be to God.