Preaching to the saints of the Lutheran Church at Christ-Elkhart and Faith-Hugoton in Kansas since February 8, 2015. All sermons prior to that date were preached either at Trinity Lutheran Church-Layton or First Lutheran Church-Tooele, Utah.
Here is the sermon preached at Trinity Lutheran Church of Layton, Utah on Wednesday, November 26, 2008 for the Thanksgiving Eve. To hear this sermon as preached from the pulpit click on the MP3 link:
Have a most blessed Thanksgiving Day and feast.
Rev. Kurt Hering
TEXT: Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven-- not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever." (John 6:53-58, NKJ)
Now that's Real food for Real Thanksgiving. That's food that doesn't just stick to your ribs, but that gives God to you and unites you with Him now and for eternity.
Imagine a Thanksgiving feast of cardboard cutouts and photographs instead of real people gathered around real food.
Imagine what how that would have gone over if that is what the Pilgrims had offered the natives to thank them for their neighborliness.
This is exactly what many settle for, what many even desire and clamor for in the church today.
However, God has gathered you here today, as always at this altar - to receive real food for real thanksgiving. You do not have a thanksgiving that proceeds from you as a matter of making offerings to God, whether by word or deed, as in so much of what passes for worship. Here you do not gather to participate in a mere re-enactment or representation of what once happened. You are gathered in the presence of the real Christ to receive His very real body and blood.
And that allows you, no even more, causes you, to overflow with real thanksgiving.
As our Lord Jesus Christ says: "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." Matthew 9:16
That is, we can in no way hope to appease God and make good for our sins based upon our sacrifice, no matter what it might be. He only desires to have mercy on us according to His steadfast and abounding love.
Again our Lord, in response to the people's question, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" . . . answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent." John 6:28-29
Therefore, to live in thanksgiving, means first and foremost to acknowledge and rely on Him as the giver of all things, especially the forgiveness of sins.
Thus fed with the true bread of life, we are free to serve our neighbor according to his need our calling.
This is all God wants from and for us in our relationship with Him. To believe in His Son, Jesus the Christ, who gave His life for us on the cross. Living in repentance, confessing our sin and receiving his absolution, his forgiveness is the life of highest thanksgiving. We have nothing to offer Him in thanksgiving that He hasn't first given to us - except for our sin. So He simply calls on us to believe in His Son, so that He might continue being your God and supplying your every need forever. This is why the Lord's Supper is also called the Eucharist, the Greek word for thanksgiving. Receiving His body and blood for the forgiveness of sins is to offer our sins to him in thanksgiving.
This thanksgiving is explained in the first three commandments, summed up by Christ, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind."
You shall have no other gods. What does this mean? We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.
You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not curse, swear, use satanic arts, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.
And our Epistle lesson speaks of what it means to live in thanksgiving to God among our fellow man.
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4
Since God provides everything we need, we are to live lives of thanksgiving to our neighbors by serving them in our own vocations, i.e. our callings as pastors or hearers; authorities or citizens; Husbands or wives; parents or children; employers or employees; teachers or students; in service one to another no matter one's station.
This is what the 4th - 10th Commandments are about, or again as Christ sums them up, "love your neighbor as yourself."
Honor your father and your mother. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them.
You shall not murder. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and support him in every physical need.
You shall not commit adultery. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we lead a sexually pure and decent life in what we say and do, and husband and wife love and honor each other.
You shall not steal. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not take our neighbor's money or possessions, or get them in any dishonest way, but help him to improve and protect his possessions and income.
You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.
You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not scheme to get our neighbor's inheritance or house, or get it in a way which only appears right, but help and be of service to him in keeping it. And also so that we do not entice or force away our neighbor's wife, workers, or animals, or turn them against him, but urge them to stay and do their duty.
The life of thanksgiving is lived in simple obedience to God's Word and in simple service to all of those around us, not in order to earn anything before God, but because He already has given us everything we need.
When we realize this fundamental truth, we can live in thanksgiving, much like the Apostle Paul, who writes in Phil 4:11-13, I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (NIV)
Let us, therefore, come before the Lord, the giver of all things -- the Father, our creator, as the giver of everything visible and invisible; the Son, our redeemer, as the giver of salvation, the forgiveness of our sin unto eternal life; and the Holy Spirit, our sanctifier, as the one who delivers that forgiveness to us through the Holy Christian Church that we may live in faith today until the resurrection of the body when we will live forever in the full and glorious presence of God .
And let us come into His Presence with thanksgiving this night - let us come to the Holy Eucharist, the true and Godly Thanksgiving feast, to receive real food His body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins. And let us depart in his peace quietly and humbly to serve our neighbor. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. And in this way we bring real food for real thanksgiving to all people through Him who loved us, gave His life for us, and gives life to the world through us -
in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Insofar as this sermon is a true proclamation of the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, it belongs to Him and His Church. Therefore its use is free to all who deem it worthy and beneficial.
Send Rev. Kurt Hering an email.