Saturday, May 1, 2010

Do we really give thanks?

Today at Church we had a wonderful message brought to us while we were celebrating the first communion of several of our children. At the beginning of the service Father Siegel began by reading the Gospel, and he spoke of when Jesus fed the 5000 with just five loaves of bread, and two fish. Then he did a wonderful example for us involving the children. He pulled out six dinner rolls and two cans of tuna. He distributed them each in a bowl to a child, one per row of people. He then told them to take the food out and feed everyone. They quickly began their task and began to distribute the food, until it was all consumed. Out of the roughly three hundred people there, many did not receive any at all.

He did this to show the children that Jesus was divine, that he did something that was only possible because he was God. However, it also showed many lessons for each of us there. The Bible tells us that unless we have the faith of a child, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Luke 18:17) The first lesson I received was that the children did not protest like many of us adults would have. “What? There is no way I can feed all these people with just a dinner roll each, and a part of a can tuna!” Instead the children began to do as he asked them, they had faith in what he said. Each of us can learn from this, that we are to have faith in Christ and all he stood for. When God gives us something to do, much like a child listening to an adult with authority, we should do as he says. We should have faith that it is going to happen, not grumble and moan to ourselves about the inconvenience that God has put on our life. Much like the Israelites as they left Egypt into the desert near Sinai, we are quick to grumble and turn our back on God.

That was another lesson that hit home today as we sat around watching these young children take their first communion. Many of us go to Church and do what we have to, to get by. Then as soon as we leave we are like the Israelites in the desert, we grumble about what we have to do or we forget God immediately as we walk out the door into the world. As part of this wonderful ceremony, each of the families chose a name of another child receiving communion, and we prayed for them for a few weeks leading up to the event. My wife nudged me during the procession of kids coming up front, and said that’s him. I looked at this child that she was motioning to, and wondered what on earth is she talking about? You see I had prayed for this young man, and as soon as the request to pray was finished, I let it slip my mind.

James 5:16 admonishes us to confess our sins one to another, and pray for one another. Much like many times in our lives we say “Oh, I’ll pray for you.” Then we leave the room or the website and we often forget to pray for them. Or much like the example above, as soon as we are done praying for them and their situation, we don’t think about them anymore. You see our life should be a life of prayer, not just a moment a day. We should keep lists of those who need our prayer, and spend our time earnestly praying for them and their needs. Jesus told us to ask and we would receive, and I truly believe this. After we left the Church and we at home I realized who she was pointing at and why! I said you were pointing at the boy we were praying for those weeks, and I had no clue. You see even though I was there to worship, my mind was more on what was going on and less on God. I truly needed to lift the veil of life from my eyes, and see with the eyes of the Spirit. We are to be raised spiritual people, in Christ! Our flesh is to die with him on the Cross.

One final lesson that I think really was apropos, and timely today was that many of us who did receive the food that was being passed out did not give thanks for it. We did not pray to God and say thank you for this food, nor did we thank the children passing it out. We were too tied up with the doing and happening, to really see with the eyes of the Spirit. You see God often blesses us daily with things and many times we forget to give him thanks in anyway. We go on with our day and at the end of the day give a short prayer, and go to bed. How often have we fallen into the rut of not really being Spiritual but being much like those hypocrites of the Bible, doing things by rote and not really feeling them. Praying a prayer just to get it out of the way. Giving thanks at the beginning of a meal in haste, not because we are truly thankful but because it has become a ‘duty’ for us. One of the funnier stories in my life was when a child was asked to give grace, and he said “Yay God, lets eat.” Many of us are happy to give this four word prayer at dinner and jump right in. How many of us actually think about the food we are receiving. My grandfather used to say this prayer and it often calls to my mind the appropriateness of what we are doing in giving a prayer over the meal:

“Our gracious heavenly father, we’d like to thank you for this food, thank you for making it possible for us to have it. Lord bless and sanctify the hands that prepared it for the nourishment of our bodies. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.”

In that simple prayer my grandfather thanked God for the food, thanked him for the nourishment, and gave a blessing to the people who took time to prepare it. Many times I will close my eyes and think this wonderful prayer to myself and think about how deep with meaning it can be, in so few words. We should give thanks for the food, for the health we are receiving, and for those who do care enough about us to prepare it for us. I miss my grandfather, when he was alive my life was not about the Lord. I do find comfort in the fact that one day I will see both of them in Heaven again. So for that my gracious heavenly Father, I give thanks.

In Christ,