A THANKSGIVING SERMON

LET US GIVE THANKS

The preacher mounted his pulpit standing high above the congregation. And gathered there before him were 100. That 100 that represented all the people of the world. He placed a lozenge in his mouth so that his voice became sweet and oily. And he said, “Let us give thanks to the Lord.” And the 100 said, ”Amen.” But there was no joy in that Amen.

“Let us give thanks for our fine possessions: For our homes and our furnishings; for our fine clothes and all those things which give us comfort and security,” said the preacher. And five who lived in poverty and three who were homeless and two who two who owned nothing stood up. And ten in all walked out.

The preacher said, “Let us give thanks for our jobs: For meaningful work that makes us feel worthwhile and provides us with what we need for a good life.” And five who were unemployed and three who were under-employed without benefits and two with no skills or education made their way out of that place.

“Let us give thanks for our food: For the nutrition and the joy of the taste of our bounty of food.” Then the poor who had not eaten in days and the mother from Sudan who had watched her child die of malnutrition and all who never knew that joy of regular meals disappeared. Ten more

But the preacher continued. “Let us give thanks for our families and our friends: For the ones who provide us with companionship and love.” And a widow who lived alone and a man who had no friends and a boy that was an outcast as school and seven others who knew loneliness slipped out of that congregation.

Now beads of sweat were starting to form on the preacher’s forehead. But he pressed on. “Let us give thanks for our intellects: For minds that comprehend great ideas and enjoy great literature and explore the deepest truths of the universe.” And those who were mentally challenged and those with severe learning disabilities and the imbecile all stood up and made their way out of that church.

The preacher without seeming to even notice went on. “Let us give thanks for our bodies: For healthy legs that carry us where we want to go: For strong arms that are able to do the tasks that are required of us.” And there were several in wheel-chairs and two who had lost limbs in war and others whose bodies had been ravaged by disease: Ten in all left that church.

But the preacher, drawing unction from his lozenge proceeded. “Let us give thanks for our senses: For eyes that see the beauty of God’s creation: For ears that hear the wonderful sounds of music and discourse.” There were the blind, who tapped the deaf and ten more were gone.

“We can certainly give thanks for our mental health: For the control of our emotions and our moods,” he said. Only to see those who were bi-polar and those who were addicted and the depressed and the ones with uncontrollable violent tempers. In all, ten more were no longer a part of that congregation.

With his lozenge beginning to melt he cried out, “Let us give thanks for our freedom.” And the ones who were oppressed by their governments and the ones who were without a voice and the ones who were imprisoned all slipped out.

In desperation the preacher said, “Let us give thanks for justice: For the rights we enjoy and for the equality of treatment under the law.” And the refugee from Syria and the dissident from North Korea and the Palestinian from Jerusalem and the gay man from Wyoming and the black from Minneapolis left.

And the preacher looked down from his pulpit and there was no one there. All 100 had left. And his lozenge was gone. And he went out into the darkness and he cried out to God in a cracked voice, “Why have they all left?” And God answered, “Because you have given thanks for that which I never promised. When did I promise you possessions or health or any of these things?” And the preacher said, “Then O Lord, for what CAN we give thanks?” And the Lord said, “You can give thanks that I am with you no matter what.”

So the preacher went out into the courtyard outside the church where the 100 had gathered. And he said, “My friends, I have deceived you. We can no gloat over what some of us have and other do not. But we can give thanks that God is with us no matter what.”

And the 100 came back into the church. And the preacher stood on the floor beside his congregation of 100. And he said, “Let us give thanks that the Lord God is with us.” And 100 voices said, “Amen.” And there was great joy in that Amen.

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Rick Sweeney

The Reverend Dr. Richard Sweeney, Rick, is a retired Presbyterian pastor and author. Rick lives with his wife, Prudy, in Greensburg, PA.