I think we’ve forgotten something. Well let’s see the colours are white for today’s feast, we have the flowers, our candles are lit, the bulletins printed, but we have no pumpkins, gourds, or apples. There’s not a sign of thanksgiving anywhere, no cornucopia, no bundles of wheat. Huh. This is unusual. Churches are supposed to be decorated for thanksgiving, in those wonderful tones of red, orange, and yellow, with large displays of produce and fruit to remind us of the bounty of the earth. It's like the perfect Martha Stewart table centerpiece every year, but we forgot it. Or did we? These big displays are meant to remind us of the abundance that God gives us to share with those around us, but we don’t have that this year. Rather than gourds, we have socks. Rather than pumpkins we have coats, rather than apples we have meal replacements, treats, and toiletries. This thanksgiving we continue to seek first the Kingdom of God, where everyone has enough, something that is unveiled for us in our Gospel this morning.
Our text is taken right from scene of the sermon on the mount, where Jesus is teaching his followers and all those who will listen how to be together in community. Community life is hard, there are so many challenges and Jesus this morning is not making a lot of sense. Jesus is telling us to calm down, to think about the birds of the air and the lilies of the field and how they have no worries and are given everything they need to survive. I find it hard to fly, personally, and while lilies are beautiful it is not very practical to live like one. It's hard to pay my rent in Lilies and feathers, Jesus. So what is Matthew trying to tell us? Matthew is, through Jesus, showing how as disciples we are to go and spread the gospel in the world, knowing fully that at our center is a human heart which beats with questions, challenges, and fear of the unknown and rejection. For Matthew, this is a process of revealing the power of God to do more than we can ask or imagine, through the ministry of his Son Jesus. This ministry was one grounded in community which constantly reached outside of itself to meet and invite others to join them. So what does this have to do with thanksgiving? It’s about the call of the kingdom of God.
The church, my friends, is the only institution which exists primarily for the benefit of its non members, said William Temple- one time Archbishop of Canterbury, which strikes at the heart of what our Gospel is saying this morning. Our homes, our savings, our food, our skills, and abilities, are given to us by God, for use in the world to seek first the kingdom in our midst. Using our skills and gifts, of every size and ability, for the inbreaking of the Kingdom today is about an invitation to Thanksgiving in community- to care for all of our community all year long. When we live into our baptismal covenant to care for and respect every human life, the planet and everything that lives on it, we start to see what it is we are being called to give thanks for. When we continue to see that as a community we exist, our ministry exists, for those who are not in our pews, we begin to see and know the kingdom in the faces of those we meet. As a community we have a reason to be here, to grow, to nurture, to develop a christ- centered way of life, which asks us to seek the kingdom first. The kingdom is about a place where there is room for all. Where rich and poor eat together. Where faith is nurtured, lives changed, and systems of oppression are overturned. The kingdom is here and we have a mission this thanksgiving to seek it out in our everyday lives. But how? I want to suggest a few ways we can continue to do that work together here.
- This month we celebrate homeless action month, hearing the stories of the various teams which make up our Neighbourhood Homeless ministry. For 10 years, this ministry has been actively seeking the kingdom in our streets helping our friends get housing, food, identification, medical attention and more. They have helped address the fundamental human right for housing, advocating for modular housing. They have seen first hand the stigma of homelessness, and work to bring it to our attention. Consider in your prayer life, how you might support this ministry with your resources. Maybe you’re being called to walk on saturday morning, or pack bags on a sunday. Maybe you’re being called to donate food or clothing. Seek the kingdom on the streets, my friends, as we celebrate with thanksgiving
- Share the good news of God in Christ with your loved ones and friends, by inviting them to join this experience of the Kingdom here at St. Anselm’s. The church exists for its non-members, and there is much good news here to share with room for everyone. We surround ourselves at thanksgiving with those we love and care for, and Jesus reminds us this morning that as Christians- thanksgiving is an everyday way of life. Jesus calls us out of isolation and into community in order to change the world we live in. So let us surround ourselves with those we love and care for- both old friends and new, as we dare to grow and share the good news that the Kingdom of God is here. Invite people to experience the gift, joy, and challenge you experience here.
You see friends, that is what the gospel is telling us today- to seek first the kingdom of God in order to be agents of change in our world. We have no martha stewart centrepieces, stalks of wheat, gourds, pumpkins or apples. We have something even more breathtaking. Today we have coats, socks, and toiletries that festoon our altar in thanksgiving for the work of the kingdom in this place. I see in this pile of clothes and food the face of the kingdom of God made real for us today. I see a parish which continues to exist for those who are not our members, who yearns to see a kingdom full of the justice and joy God promises us in the Eucharistic feast. Come on church, raise up and give thanks for the inbreaking kingdom in our midst, which calls us to invite and serve those who are not here. God calls us to give thanks with our lives by seeking first the kingdom of God. How will you respond?