Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Towards Thanksgiving Sunday (October 13, 2013)

Season:            Creation
Scripture:        Genesis 2:4b-9,15-17 and Isaiah 55:1-3, 6-13
Sermon:           Cherishing the Gift (an adult Thanksgiving?)

Genesis 2 portrays our first home as a paradise, with all that is needed for good life freely given.  We're tempted to think, "If only we had stayed there!  It would be Thanksgiving every day!"

But is staying there ever in the cards?  If we were meant to stay in the Garden, why in this story does God plant the tree of the knowledge of good and evil among the other trees, and then draw our attention so pointedly to it?  How much more widely can God be opening the door to our fall from innocence, into knowledge, dis-illusionment (in the best sense) and awareness?  And even giving us a little shove through it? 
Isn't that fall precisely what's required for us to mature?  As long as they are in the Garden and on the far side of fallen, Adam and Eve are like children and literally do not know enough truly to be thankful. 
In contrast is the prophet of Isaiah 55 -- ecstatic in praise and thanksgiving to God.  The prophet and people have suffered and endured great loss because of their sin and the ruthlessness of others.  They have no illusions about their own goodness or the guarantee of blessings in life.  So there is deep -- even ecstatic gratitude when they are able to envision again God's hand of blessing in their lives.
Have you noticed that all our cultural stories of "the first Thanksgiving" (whether Canadian or American) are about small groups of people who survive great ordeals by the grace of God?  Thanksgiving comes on the far side of loss, anxiety and doubt, and we'll remember this in our celebration of Thanksgiving this year for the grace and goodness of God.

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