Sermon Preached for the Day of National Thanksgiving, 2009
So it has been quite a year, hasn’t it. The times they have tested us as a nation. The mighty have fallen. In 1953 General Motors CEO Charles "Engine Charlie" Wilson said “what’s good for GM is good for America...” In 1969 Chrysler marketed the SuperBee as a “Six pack to go” – today it comes with a side of your favorite Italian food courtesy of Fiat. And I could keep going and going. The mighty have fallen. The Psalmist tells us not to put our trust in flesh and blood or earthly rulers or kingdoms – we might add stock markets, once seemingly impervious American icons of industry and political fortune. No, we are bidden to put our trust in the Lord.
The world focuses always on the mighty, the movers and shakers, but bigness is a temptation that will surely leave us undone. Christians in America are tempted to beat our chests with pride and work to become the Wal-Mart giants of religion. The big and mighty fall but the Lord endures. As we approach Thanksgiving we are mindful of that temptation to give thanks for and to flaunt size and earthly power. But we are bidden by God to trust not in these but in Him, whose goodness fails us never. This is the message of faith for today.
The Psalmist says to us not to put your trust in earthly rulers or earthly kingdoms, not to place your confidence in flesh and blood and lives and dies, in the mighty who fall or in powers that wax and wane. The Psalmist bids us to put our trust in the Lord. And that is what the humble and faithful know best of all. Thanksgiving begins with knowing whom to trust.
Flesh and blood are not the all of our lives. We are but mortals but this mortality has been shown the majesty of life stronger than death, through the Lord who wore our humble flesh and blood to a cross and a tomb. We are but mortals and yet to this mortality God has visited with grace sufficient for each day, with mercies new every morning, and with the surprise of hope and redemption we neither deserve nor dare ask for. Flesh and blood come and go but the Word of the Lord endures forever.
As Christians we do not face the fall of the mighty or the weakness of mortal flesh with regret. We have something stronger in which to trust. It is not regret that speaks when we survey the landscape and find earthly powers wanting. We speak faith – joyful and grateful faith in the God who does not disappoint us, who has given to us His very Son, Jesus Christ. It is not with regret that we look around and admit our leaders and rulers have feet of clay and can not be trusted with our all. It is faith that speaks when we look to Him who can be trusted, the Good Shepherd who leads us by the still, quiet waters and rich green pastures of His grace that supply all our needs and never disappoint us.
As Christians it is not with regret that we admit we are not the powerful and the mighty. Earthly power and might is not our goal or purpose. God has chosen to work through the ordinary and humble. With faith we confess not ourselves but Him, the powerful and mighty Savior whose blood pays for every sin and whose life bestows victory today and eternally. When we look around at brokenness of our world, we do not regret its weakness but look beyond it to the God who supplies all our needs... trust in the Lord and you will not be disappointed.
Trust in the Lord who supplies the rich treasure of forgiveness to take away our every sin... who freely gives to us this gift that cost Him His all on the cross. Trust in the Lord who has chosen to hide in death the path to life everlasting... raising up a cross – the symbol of death to become the symbol of new life and hope through all that His death accomplished for us. God has hidden life eternal in the death of His Son and it is by being joined to His death that we are born again in baptism, as Olivia was tonight.
Trust in the Lord who seals to each of us the gift of eternity. He gives us nothing less than His pledge and promise – nothing can separate us from His love. If God be for us, who can be against us? If we can trust Him for our eternal life, then we can trust Him also for our mortal lives. If we can trust Him with our sins, then we can trust Him for the daily bread we need as well. So the cross speaks to us in unmistakable terms – God alone is trustworthy and true.
The mighty have fallen... the times have tested us... flesh and blood have shown their weakness... earthly wisdom and knowledge have failed us... our riches have declined in value through it all... but the one things that has not lost its value nor given up its strength is the grace of God shown to us in Jesus Christ. From faith’s humble vantage point we learn, our God supplies our every need. Period. No qualification or fine print. No fear of bankruptcy or merger – God stands secure, certain, and stable... and those who stand in Him know the security that keeps us always safe, the confidence that keeps us always sure in change and chance, and the firm foundation that holds us up always when everything else lets us down. The mighty have fallen but those who stand in Christ are mighty secure despite what comes or does not. Trust in the Lord and you will not be disappointed. Our God supplies our every need – physical and spirit... today... tomorrow... and forever. For this we give thanks... not on one day only but forevermore... Amen