a list of thanks
This sermon was offered on the occasion of Thanksgiving on November 23, 2016 at St. John’s Cathedral.
True bread. I am struck today by this concept of true bread. Bread that never goes bad. Bread that never leaves us wanting. Bread that is imminently present and available, if we simply seek it, ask for it, take it in as it is made available. True bread that exists for us, that has been made tangible for us, that continues to be made tangible for us in the celebration of our Eucharist, our communal feast that we share in together, reminding ourselves of the eternal presence of a bread that feeds us so we are never hungry, drink that fills us so we never thirst.
One of the lasting memories of childhood for me that is tied hand-in-hand with Thanksgiving (apart from handprint turkey art) is the creating of lists of things I was thankful for. This was a practice that I am sure lasted for many years. I can remember lists that included such things as family, friends, beloved pets, favorite sports, favorite toys, favorite teachers (I was never one to miss an opportunity to suck up just a little bit). And so, I wondered what would my list look like today. What would make my 29th annual Thanksgiving thanks list?
Our baby girl we are eagerly and somewhat patiently awaiting.
Our dog, Zuzu.
Our life that we get to share together.
My vocational call and the chance to live it out in this place at this time (see, I told you I never missed a chance to suck up a little).
The friends and family and friends that are family, that are ever present in our lives.
The Seattle Sounders.
Washington State football being good again.
In reality, not a lot has changed from those lists I made as a kid. The things that we hold dear in our childhood, remain those things we continue to hold dear. Those things that we give thanks for, are those things that impact our lives, that let us know we are alive, that fill us with the whole host of emotions from joy and celebration to sadness and even anger. We give thanks for these things, even when we experience the so-called negative emotions, because even those emotions show to us the passion we have for and importance we assign to these aspects of our lives.
And, I think that we hold onto these things, these things that illustrate to us that we are alive, because they are glimpses, pieces, of that true bread that Christ promises us is always present for us. In our relationships with friends and family, and even pets, we get glimpses of God in this world. We get glimpses of how God is present in our lives, working in and through those whom we come in contact with, leaving bread crumbs for us to follow the path back towards the grand banquet. Even in sports, we come together as a community of strangers, united in one voice, one common hope, regardless of the why that has brought us there. We are all accepted as one with the team. And it is through this shared experience that we can collectively experience high highs and low lows together, supporting one another.
It is these experiences, these relationships that should be drawing us back to the altar table, back to the communion feast. It is here, in this place, that we can also join in a community full of friends, family, and strangers, all joining together with a common goal. Regardless of what has drawn us to this place, we are all striving for the same thing, hoping to receive the same taste of that true bread that Christ has promised us, that is made manifest through the breaking of our bread, the drinking of our cup. When we give thanks, we give thanks for those things that are in our life that are reflections of the true bread that is on offer here each and every week. But, when we come together to feast on that bread, when we feast together as a community, that is where we get to truly eat of the true bread, to take in and digest the fact that Jesus is the bread of life. That whoever comes to him will never be hungry, and whoever believes in him will never be thirsty. When you make your list of things you are thankful for this year, see the reflection of God in those things. See that the true bread is present in your life daily. And give thanks that we have the opportunity to eat of that true bread.