Remember to Give Thanks

April 27, 2014 (Easter 2)

Deuteronomy 8:6-18

John 20:19-31

 

8: 6 “Therefore keep the commandments of the Lord your God, by walking in his ways and by fearing him. 7For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills, 8a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, 9a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron and from whose hills you may mine copper. 10You shall eat your fill and bless the Lord your God for the good land that he has given you. 11 Take care that you do not forget the Lord your God, by failing to keep his commandments, his ordinances, and his statutes, which I am commanding you today. 12 When you have eaten your fill and have built fine houses and live in them, 13 and when your herds and flocks have multiplied, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, 14 then do not exalt yourself, forgetting the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, 15 who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, an arid wasteland with poisonous snakes and scorpions. He made water flow for you from flint rock, 16 and fed you in the wilderness with manna that your ancestors did not know, to humble you and to test you, and in the end to do you good. 17 Do not say to yourself, “My power and the might of my own hand have gotten me this wealth.” 18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, so that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your ancestors, as he is doing today.” (Deuteronomy 8:6-18, NRSV)

 

Let us pray: Almighty and everlasting God, increase our faith, hope, and charity; that we may obtain that which you promise, and help us to love your command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

 

Picture a dad, a mom, a grandparent; whoever it might be giving instructions to a high school graduate who is preparing to head off to college.

 

“Now son, remember who you are and where you came from.  Remember all the things we have taught you.  Remember what is right and what is wrong.  When you head off to college, you are going into a new world.  You will have freedom you never imagined.  You can stay up as late as you want.  You can sleep through your classes because no one is there to wake you up.  You can eat what you want. It is freedom unlike any other time in your life.  You will have the freedom to do all these things, but remember who you are and whose you are.”

 

That is the nature I imagine for the speech that Moses gives to the Israelites.  Their journey in the wilderness is finally over.  They have been wandering around for 40 years and now they have arrived.  In those 40 years they relied solely on God.  God provided them manna each morning to eat and water to drink.  But they grumbled loudly and often.  They were tired of manna and they hankered for more.  This is the backdrop for Moses as he is speaking to them.  The Israelites are staring across to the land that God promised to them.  A land flowing with milk and honey.  When Moses offers them some advice.

 

I imagine Moses, their leader, a father figure, standing before them and saying; “Before you head off, remember who you are. You will have choices you never imagined.  Instead of simply manna, you can choose from an array of wheat and barley.  Instead of being thirsty, there is a stream constantly flowing with pure, cold, clean water.  No more will you hunger and thirst.  But before you cross over, before you take that step, remember who you are and whose you are.  Remember God and how God has cared for you all these years.”

 

Just try to picture this large mass of Israelites craving to cross over into this land that had been promised long ago and Moses holding them back.  Moses, there wise leader, treats them like adolescents heading off into freedom.  Like a parent, Moses reminds them that once they enter this land of milk and honey, it will become much harder for them to obey and honor God.  He knows that once they inherit the Promised Land they will be able to eat their fill, they will live in fine houses, they will shepherd large herds and get silver and gold.  They will become wealthy.  But that wealth will come at a cost, because with wealth comes forgetfulness, and there is the danger that they will forget God altogether.

 

Instead of remembering that God provided for their every need, they will say to themselves, “my power and the might of my own hand have gotten me this wealth.”  Moses tells them, remember who you are and whose you are.

 

I have been serving with you for just over three months now, and I am learning about the history, tradition and commitment of the Indian Hill Church and while it may not look or feel that we are standing on the edge of the Promised Land, I want to offer some encouragement that we really are.

 

In some ways we are always one step away from the land God has promised.  We are looking into the future God has given us.  With God’s blessing there are great things on the horizon, here at the Indian Hill Church.

 

What greater gift could you give than the gift of your time, even if it is only one hour?  This year we are asking everyone to volunteer and to volunteer for one new activity.  This is a great way to make new friends and to build our relationship with one another and the community in which we serve.

 

Ministries outside our church

  • With God’s blessing, and your giving of your time and resources men in the Hamilton County Jail are visited and given bibles, youth in the Hamilton County Youth Center are visited and have someone to talk to through the 20/20 program.

 

  • With God’s blessing, and your giving of your time and talents inner city residents are receiving paid on the job training and help to overcome obstacles to pursuing and maintaining stable employment through Venice on Vine.

 

  • With God’s blessing, and your giving of your time and talents, Inter Parrish Ministry provides food and services for needy residents in Claremont County.

 

  • With God’s blessing, and your giving of your time and talents we host homeless families in our church through Interfaith Hospitality Network.

 

  • With God’s blessing, and your giving of your time and talents MEAC Madisonville Education and Assistance Center provides nutritious dinners for needy families in the Madisonville area on Monday evenings throughout the year.

 

  • With God’s blessing, and your giving of your time and talents, we are helping Matthew 25: Ministries to provide nutritional food to the hungry, clean water to the thirsty, clothes to the naked, affordable housing to the homeless, medical care to the ill and humanitarian supplies to the poorest of the poor.

 

  • With God’s blessing, and your giving 2 youth from our congregation Avondale Ecumenical Consortium Summer Program provide enrichment in basic skills of writing, math, reading, computer, and recreational activities with children from the inner city children in grades 3-5.

 

 

Ministries inside our church

  • With God’s blessing, and your giving of your time and talents there is a joyful noise from our choir, hand bells and organ in care of our talented Music Director Brenda Waugh and the music ministry of our church.

 

  • With God’s blessing, and your giving of your time and talents, we have acolytes, LEM’s, readers and a beautifully appointed sanctuary in which to worship God each week.

 

  • With God’s blessing, and your giving of your time and talents, our children our learning the faith through Jennifer Taylor’s leadership you are teaching, acting and making the bible stories exciting for our children.

 

  • With God’s blessing, and your giving, of your time and talents, our youth are deepening their faith through Michelle VanOudenallen’s leadership and the work of our adult advisors and youth mentors are being confirmed.

 

  • With God’s blessing, and your giving, of your time and talents, the hard work of Karen Pauly and Barb Huffman and church members like you committees are making the church go, improving the buildings and grounds and providing help for those in need in our midst.

 

  • With God’s blessing and your giving, the word of God is proclaimed and the love of Jesus Christ is shared.

 

This is our community of faith that has faithfully proclaimed the love of Jesus Christ in this village since Thanksgiving Morning 1957.   But, just like the Israelites, we did not start the journey of this congregation, many dear saints laid the foundation of this church and faithfully responded to God’s blessings.

 

They responded, they remembered, and they gave.

They gave,

Their money,

Time,

Talents

And thanks for all that God did for them.

 

Just like the Israelites, we are about to enter a new land full of many blessings that are not of our own making.  They are gifts of God, blessings from God, provisions from God.

 

Take this as our reminder to remember all that God has done for us and to give thanks.

 

It is our job is to give back.

 

To say thanks.

 

To say we remember who we are and whose we are.

When you and I know and acknowledge that it is God who blesses us, then life is far different than when we think we earned it all on our own.  When you and I acknowledge that God is the owner and we are stewards then we can worship God and enjoy life.  If we think it all belongs to us, then we spend much of our life rationalizing, arguing, hoarding and trying to hold on to what we think is ours.  Life is not enjoyed.

 

So, you see that volunteering is really about God and what God has done for us, and our response is to give back.

 

Today, we have the opportunity to faithfully response with our commitment of our time, our talent and our commitment to the Lord.

 

Your giving will meet the needs of our neighbors, your giving will teach the faith to our children, your giving will help to maintain this gorgeous sanctuary, your giving will keep the choir singing and the organ playing, and the hand bells ringing, your giving will enable the sick, the homebound, the lonely to be visited, the Word of God to be proclaimed and the good news of Jesus Christ to reach the least, the last and the lost. Your act of volunteering and your great generosity of your time is a tangible sign of thankfulness to God.

 

I invite you to come, share your gifts and your talents and your time to make a difference in the name of Jesus Christ.  And remember God and always give thanks.

 

Let us pray:Living God, long ago, faithful women proclaimed the good news of Jesus’ resurrection, and the world was changed forever. Teach us to keep faith with them, that our witness may be as bold, our love as deep, and our faith as true. Amen.

 

 

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