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Lk 17:11-19 · 2Co 9:6-15 · Dt 8:7-18 · Ps 65
This Week's Sermons

In All Things Be Thankful
Ephesians 5:20

Back during the dark days of 1929, a group of ministers in the Northeast, all graduates of the Boston School of Theology, gathered to discuss how they should conduct their Thanksgiving Sunday services. Things were about as bad as they could get, with no sign of relief. The bread lines were depressingly long, the stock market had plummeted, and the term Great Depression seemed an apt description for the mood of the country. The ministers thought they should only lightly touch upon the subject Thanksgiving in deference to the human misery all about them. After all, there was to be thankful for. But it was Dr. William L. Stiger, pastor of a large congregation in the city that rallied the group. This was not the time, he suggested, to give mere passing mention to Thanksgiving, just the opposite. This was the time for the nation to get matters in perspective and thank God for blessings always present, but perhaps suppressed due to intense hardship.

I suggest to you the ministers struck upon something. The most intense moments of thankfulness are not found in times of plenty, but when difficulties abound. Think of the Pilgrims that first Thanksgiving. Half their number dead, men without a country, but still there was thanksgiving to God. Their gratitude was not for something but in something. It was that same sense of gratitude that lead Abraham Lincoln to formally establish the first Thanksgiving Day in the midst of national civil war, when the butcher’s list of casualties seemed to have no end and the very nation struggled for survival.

Perhaps in your own life, right now, intense hardship. You are experiencing your own personal Great Depression. Why should you be thankful this day? May I suggest three things?
  1. We must learn to be thankful or we become bitter.
  2. We must learn to be thankful or we will become discouraged.
  3. We must learn to be thankful or we will grow arrogant and self-satisfied.
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Leonard Sweet's Sermon

The Two Faces of Thanksgiving
Ephesians 1:15-23

Brain science has now discovered what The White Queen in "Alice in Wonderland" always knew: "It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards."

The most recent research in cognitive science, which is a fancy name for the science of "how the brain works," reveals that remembering the past and visualizing the future use the same neural mechanisms. Memory and prophesy are flip sides of the same mental coin. Human memory works forward, and the very skills that enable you to remember your past enable you to envision your future. Or as one scientist puts it, "Memory constructs, stimulates and predicts possible future events in an ever-changing environment." (Susan Gaidos, "Thanks," Science News, 21 June 2008, 27ff.)

To walk down memory lane is, at the same time, to follow the yellow brick road into your dream future.

In Roman mythology there was a god known as "Janus." Janus was believed to be the god who was a guiding force for individuals at fresh starts, at new beginnings, and at all times of transition. Janus was always depicted as having two faces — one face looking backwards into the past, the other face turned towards the future. Hence the hinge month of "January."

While being "two-faced" has now become an insult, for those early Romans who knew nothing about brain science the ability to simultaneously keep one’s past in clear view while focusing forward to the future was seen as a unique, in fact a divine, ability.

For Christians to be "two-faced" was to be a prophet, except a prophet was seen in threefold scenarios, not two. A prophet was supposed to have three faces: a face oriented toward past, a face oriented toward the present and a face oriented toward the future, simultaneously...

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