Preaching Connection: Thanksgiving

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Reading for Preaching

A Verse of Matthias Claudius

To receive a gift, say “’Thank you! It makes me very happy! I am so pleased to have it! It will remind me of you!’” Keep it simple. Don’t complicate matters. Don’t “divide the indivisible.” Don’t (1)pretend not to want it. “’Oh, that’s much too good for me. You shouldn’t have. Please take it back...
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Additional content related to Thanksgiving

Psalm 22:25-31

No, it’s not your imagination: the Year B Revised Common Lectionary has put Psalm 22 in front of us now three times in calendar year 2024.  Almost this exact same lection was the reading for the Second Sunday in Lent and the entire Psalm was assigned for Good Friday.  Now here it is again as…

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Psalm 126

Whenever I read Psalm 126, the phrase “delirious with joy” leaps to mind.  What emerges in the opening verses here is a portrait of people whose wildest dreams somehow came true and they discover that they just cannot stop giggling over it and grinning like the proverbial Cheshire cat over and over and anon.  Weeping…

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Psalm 95:1-7a

This is another one of those lections that stops just short of the place in the psalm where there is a decisive—yet probably important—shift of tone and theme.  Yes, the first seven verses of Psalm 95 are a lovely doxological celebration and a call to worship this Creator and Redeemer God for all God is…

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Psalm 89:1-4, 15-18

Across its 52 verses, Psalm 89 covers a lot of ground.  You would not sense that from the mere 8 verses the Lectionary has carved out for this lection but if you range beyond those verses, you will see a lot going on.  There is praise and thanksgiving.  There is a nod to the more…

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Psalm 50:7-15

In an episode of the original Star Trek series titled “The Apple,” the crew of the USS Enterprise visits a planet that is ruled by a god by the name of Vaal.  One inhabitant of this planet named Akuta has what looks like a small antenna attached to his neck and it is through this…

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Psalm 112:1-9 (10)

About all I can say after reading Psalm 112 is that it’s one thing to wear rose-colored glasses but quite another to fuse those glasses to your head so you can never take them off!  Psalm 112 is by no means the only poem in the Hebrew Psalter to paint a glowing portrait of what…

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Psalm 40:1-11

Did David (or whoever wrote this psalm) write it backwards?  You can divide Psalm 40 rather neatly into two halves (though most of the second half is left out by the Lectionary).  The first ten or so verses are full of confidence and gratitude for God’s deliverance.  As usual in the psalms, we cannot detect…

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Isaiah 63:7-9

We have all seen this on the walls of someone’s house.  Perhaps it is done in counted-cross-stitch.  Perhaps it is done in calligraphy.  But we have seen these framed squares or rectangles hanging in a living room and containing a Bible verse shorn of its context.  Most of the time this works fine—the verse functions…

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2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12

Among the various elements of Paul’s epistles, two are, arguably, the most challenging to proclaim in a 21st century context: the apostle’s “personal touches,” and his eschatology. It can be as difficult to preach about the apostle’s more personal messages as about his proclamation of Jesus’ second coming. That might seem to make the challenge…

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Psalm 111

In a recent sermon commentary on another psalm, I observed that although the poetry of the Psalms and the wisdom literature of Proverbs or Ecclesiastes are distinct in terms of biblical literary genre, there is a lot of crossover between the Books of Psalms and Proverbs.  Psalm 111 is another example of this with its…

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Psalm 113

In Robert Duvall’s film, The Apostle, we see a vignette of what could be described as a very “in your face” style of praise.  The revival worship services of a certain stripe of Deep South fundamentalism are high-decibel, foot-stomping, hand-clapping, gizzard-piercing spectacles that are most decidedly not for the faint of heart! And yet, in…

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Hebrews 12:18-29

What might Christian worship look like if each service began with Hebrews’, “Let us … worship God acceptably with reverence and awe”? What affect on worship might a sticky note on preachers, worship planners and leaders’ computers that read, “Let us … worship God acceptably with reverence and awe” have? Those who proclaim and hear…

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Colossians 1:1-14

Elements of this week’s Epistolary Lesson are faintly reminiscent of Huck Finn’s experience with prayer. In the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck recounts how his foster mother, Miss Watson, tried to teach him to pray. “Miss Watson … took me in the closet and prayed, but nothing come of it. She told me to pray…

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Psalm 16

Psalm 16 presents the words of a person whose life appears to be going swimmingly. Everything is working for this poet. These look to be the words of a winner, of a person who was born sunny-side up as a confirmed optimist. And I suspect we’ve all met people like this. I also suspect that…

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Psalm 22:19-28

Ordinary Time is just beginning yet the Lectionary directs us to a sometimes difficult psalm.  Yes, we are being asked to consider only the hope-filled, praise-filled conclusion to this poem but it’s not as though we can forget its terrible opening set of verses.  “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” brings us…

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Joshua 5:9-12

These four verses from Joshua 5 are rather innocuous looking.  There is a lot of high drama in Joshua—and not a little of that drama is the stuff of deeply troubling matters involving holy war and total war and violence perpetuated by God’s people.  But these verses appear to be mostly devoid of drama.  They…

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Psalm 138

The Lectionary likes Psalm 138 and slates it sometimes in Ordinary Time and sometimes in Epiphany.  I have several sermon commentaries on the CEP site on Psalm 138 but for this week I will riff on the last time I wrote about this in the Sundays after Epiphany. I have noted often in my sermon…

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Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10

Quick!  What is your favorite verse from the Book of Nehemiah? Ask that of most churchgoing Christians and the answer is likely to be, “Ummm . . . Not sure.”  Although some people may be familiar with the overall storyline of Nehemiah, mostly the specifics are not widely known.  So if you said to someone,…

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Psalm 19

Almost 120 years ago an unknown patent clerk named Albert Einstein published a series of papers detailing what he called “special relativity.” At one fell swoop, Einstein shattered centuries’ worth of scientific theories about the fundamental nature of reality. The theories of Isaac Newton and his mechanical understanding of the universe’s functioning were swept away,…

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Hebrews 5:1-10

The master preacher scholar Fred Craddock once called the books of Hebrews and Revelation, “the literature most intimidating to readers of the New Testament.” After all, Hebrews’ Preacher packs his letter with tightly woven arguments that assume familiarity with Israel’s wilderness life. As Craddock also notes, however, even Hebrews’ writer seems to sense that his…

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Ephesians 5:15-20

Near the middle of this Sunday’s Epistolary Lesson the apostle summons his readers to “understand what the Lord’s will is” (17b). In a letter that he soaks with grace, this may be among the biggest challenges he sets before God’s Ephesian adopted sons and daughters. Paul spends much of the first part of his letter…

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Psalm 145:10-18

The Lectionary likes Psalm 145 but chops it up a little differently each time.  That’s a shame since the psalm is meant to be read as a single unit and presents a unified theme too.  Probably for this particular Sunday the RCL chose this part of Psalm 145 because of the verse about God’s giving…

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Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22

The Lectionary is giving us but a small sampling of Psalm 107 by carving out the first three verses and then a half-dozen from the center of the larger poem.  If you read the entire psalm, you will discover it is a curious historical retrospective on various experiences that various unnamed people have had at…

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1 Corinthians 1:3-9

This Sunday’s Epistolary Lesson’s “twin themes” of Paul’s thanksgiving and the return of Jesus Christ may seem particularly appropriate this week. After all, this first Sunday in Advent falls just three days after (U.S.) Americans’ celebration of Thanksgiving and at the beginning of the season of heightened anticipation of Jesus’ second coming. However, 1 Corinthians…

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Psalm 40:1-11

Did David (or whoever wrote this psalm) write it backwards?  You can divide Psalm 40 rather neatly into two halves (though most of the second half is left out by the Lectionary).  The first ten or so verses are full of confidence and gratitude for God’s deliverance.  As usual in the psalms, we cannot detect…

Explore

Colossians 2:6-15, (16-19)

Few phrases seem harder to learn and say than, “Thank you.”  After all, few responses mature more slowly than thanksgiving.  In fact, gratitude hasn’t yet fully ripened in me, even after nearly more than sixty-one years’ worth of reasons for feeling it.  I, after all, naturally assume that I deserve nearly everything I have. So…

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Psalm 16

Psalm 16 presents the words of a person whose life appears to be going swimmingly.  Everything is working for this poet.  These look to be the words of a winner, of a person who was born sunny-side up as a confirmed optimist.  And I suspect we’ve all met people like this.  I also suspect that…

Explore

Psalm 22:19-28

Ordinary Time is just beginning in the early summertime of 2019 yet the Lectionary directs us to a sometimes difficult psalm.  Yes, we are being asked to consider only the hope-filled, praise-filled conclusion to this poem but it’s not as though we can forget its terrible opening set of verses.  “My God, my God, why…

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Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24

Call it the little Psalm that could.  Call it the Psalm of stealth and surprise.  Call it the Psalm that fits the Gospel bill. Why?  Because out of all the 150 psalms in the Hebrew Psalter, many people have their favorites but those favorites—most anybody’s “Top 10 Greatest Hits of the Psalter” list—would likely not…

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Ephesians 5:15-20

Intelligence doesn’t necessarily equal wisdom.  In fact, some of us can identify people who rank among the highest on the intelligence quotient (IQ) scale but rank among the lowest on the “wisdom quotient” scale.  Perhaps that’s why our text’s Paul feels the need not to tell his readers to be “intelligent” or “smart,” but to…

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Psalm 66:8-20

On this Sixth Sunday of the Easter season, Easter is frankly fading from our minds.  The trumpets are stored away, the lilies have long been consigned to the trash, and we’re moving on to Ascension Day and Pentecost.  So it’s a good thing to preach on Psalm 66 today, because it reminds us that every…

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Psalm 66:1-9

Even the staunchest believer sometimes wonders about the efficacy of prayer. Does it really work? Does God listen to our prayers and answer in identifiable ways? Not only our personal experience of apparently unanswered prayers, but also some of the more difficult Christian doctrines (the sovereignty of God manifested in predestination and election) make us…

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Galatians 1:1-12

Good thing the Galatian Christians did not have access to Paul’s other letters. Because if they could read something like what we now call Philippians or Ephesians or almost any of the other dozen letters from Paul we have in the New Testament, surely they would be tempted to sing that song from Sesame Street:…

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Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22

Comments, Observations, and Questions to Consider Psalm 107 is a thanksgiving liturgy that worshipers probably recited at a festival in Jerusalem’s temple. Some congregations still use it or a modified form of it at Thanksgiving worship services. It also serves as the basis for a number of well-known hymns, including Martin Rinkart’s stirring “Now Thank…

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Psalm 30

Comments, Observations, and Questions to Consider Psalm 30’s superscription claims it’s a song for the dedication of the temple.  Yet its modern relevance seems greater than that.  After all, it appears to be a song of thanksgiving to God for deliverance from a perilous situation.  It doesn’t require much imagination to deduce that God has…

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And Give Thanks

2011-01-18

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Isness, Wasness, Comeness

Preached on Thanksgiving weekend which was also Christ the King Sunday.

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