Tuesday, November 25, 2008

REMEMBER Deut. 8:2

S‑1081 11/27/2008 Thanksgiving Day Hymns: (O)568; (S) 36; 54 S.O.D. 574; L.S. 313; #572; 577

Texts: Deuteronomy 8:1-10; Philippians 4:6-20; Luke 17:11-19

Theme: “REMEMBER” (Deut. 8:2).


Question: “Remember when?”

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Thanksgiving Day is from the Old Testament Lesson: “And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD Your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that He might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. (Deut. 8:1-2).

Saints in Christ, on this National Thanksgiving Day, we take time to be in the Lord’s house for one purpose and one purpose only—to give thanks to our Father, Creator and Provider for all of His blessings for us.

One of those blessings is the gift of memory. Oh how precious that gift is and what a tragedy when we loose our memories. Sometimes, we kid ourselves by saying: “I am having a senior moment—I forgot!” Memory is indeed a gift, and we don’t realize what a gift it is unless we loose it.

Perhaps you know a loved one—grandpa or grandma, father or mother who lost their memory to Alzheimer. You visit them in the hospital or the nursing home, but they don’t know you. It breaks your heart when that happens.

But as bad as that loss is, it is not as bad as when we choose not to remember the blessings from God. It is a sad day when the child of God forgets the commands of God to remember all of His goodness and graces to us. In the text before us today, Moses as God’s spokesperson speaks to the Israelites saying: And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD Your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that He might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.” (Deut. 9:2).

Moses is asking the people of Israel to REMEMBER all along the way, how with a mighty arm and with an outstretched hand what the Lord of heaven and earth has done for them—delivered them from the hands of Pharaoh and the slavery in Egypt, and how He led them for 40 years in the wilderness. Remember His goodness to you and the promises He fulfilled in caring for all of your needs. Remember His loving-kindness to you by not keeping you where you were, but getting you out of that place. Remember! Don’t forget that you have a Father who loves you and cares for you. The more you remember, the more you are apt to give thanks for what has taken place.

Many parents teach their children to say “thank you” as they receive a gift from someone. Sometimes they also have to remind them to say thank you too. That is a good thing. When we do we acknowledge the giver of the gift.

Memory is a special gift from God. We often find ourselves saying to one, Remember when… “Remember when we went on this vacation? Remember when grandma came to visit? Remember when God answered our prayers? Remember when she said yes? Remember when our children were born?”

Oh, how thankful we are for our memories. They allow us to look back and give thanks to God. But they also allow us to look ahead realizing that God is continuing to lead us into the future. PAUSE.

We live in an electronic age that many people can’t live without, because of the many conveniences they provide us. Consider the computer. It has a memory chip that allows it to remember the last activity and store information. But sometimes the computer gets to much information and it needs a bigger memory chip to hold all of the information.

So it is with us the beloved saints of Christ. We have our memory also. The more we spend time around God’s Word and His Sacrament, the more we are filled with awe at God’s mercy and grace for all He does for us. And even though we don’t have a memory chip that you can add to because of the many information we have stored, we have a chip in someone who cares to remind us of the blessings of God—a brother or a sister in the Lord. For those who care enough to remind us of God’s goodness we should be thankful.

As sinners, sometimes we forget that we are God’s beloved children, that He provides for us all things, that He cares for us in all situations, and that He wants us to remember His love and compassion always. PAUSE.

It is gratitude that prompted an old man to visit an old broken pier on the eastern seacoast of Florida. Every Friday night, until his death in 1973, he would return, walking slowly and slightly stooped with a large bucket of shrimp. The sea gulls would flock to this old man, and he would feed them from his bucket. Many years before, in October, 1942, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker was on a mission in a B-17 to deliver an important message to General Douglas MacArthur in New Guinea. But there was an unexpected detour which would hurl Captain Eddie into the most harrowing adventure of his life.

Somewhere over the South Pacific the Flying Fortress became lost beyond the reach of radio. Fuel ran dangerously low, so the men ditched their plane in the ocean... For nearly a month Captain Eddie and his companions would fight the water, and the weather, and the scorching sun. They spent many sleepless nights recoiling as giant sharks rammed their rafts. The largest raft was nine by five. The biggest shark...ten feet long. 

But of all their enemies at sea, one proved most formidable: starvation. Eight days out, their rations were long gone or destroyed by the salt water. It would take a miracle to sustain them. And a miracle occurred. In Captain Eddie's own words, “Cherry,” that was the B- 17 pilot, Captain William Cherry, “read the service that afternoon, and we finished with a prayer for deliverance and a hymn of praise. There was some talk, but it tapered off in the oppressive heat. With my hat pulled down over my eyes to keep out some of the glare, I dozed off.”

“Something landed on my head. I knew that it was a sea gull. I don’t know how I knew, I just knew. Everyone else knew too. No one said a word, but peering out from under my hat brim without moving my head, I could see the expression on their faces. They were staring at that gull. The gull meant food...if I could catch it.” And the rest, as they say, is history. Captain Eddie caught the gull. Its flesh was eaten. Its intestines were used for bait to catch fish. The survivors were sustained and their hopes renewed because a lone sea gull, uncharacteristically hundreds of miles from land, offered itself as a sacrifice. You know that Captain Eddie made it.  And now you also know...that he never forgot. Because every Friday evening, about sunset...on a lonely stretch along the eastern Florida seacoast...you could see an old man walking...white-haired, bushy-eye browed, slightly bent. His bucket filled with shrimp was to feed the gulls...to remember that one which, on a day long past, gave itself without a struggle...like manna in the wilderness. 

We, today, gather in this place to remember a great deliverance that took place. Not of the Israelites from the bondage of Egypt, not the deliverance of Captain Eddie Rickenbacker from the sea by a sea gull, but the living Christ who gave His life as ransom for all. We remember our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ on Thanksgiving Day and every day for all of His abundant and undeserved blessings for us. We remember as we gather in His presence around His Word and precious Sacrament. In gratitude we remember His goodness always. We remember His suffering at the hands of the Romans. Remember the crown of thorns. Remember the pierced hands. Remember the parched lips. Remember His death. And rejoice in His resurrection. Jesus even exhorts us as we gather around His table to do it all in remembrance of Him. PAUSE.

Beloved in Christ today in gratitude to the Savior’s gift to us, we are in His house. And we remember the many blessings. Therefore remember your baptism. It is your greatest Treasure! It is a ship that shall never be wrecked, which leads you into a heavenly harbor. Remember the Sacrament of the Altar it is your heavenly manna along the way to eternity. Remember that your sins are forgiven. Remember that you are blood-bought and heaven-bound. Remember this day, because today in gratitude to the God of all grace; you and I lift our eyes heaven-ward and declare all that we have is but a gift from the merciful Father of all grace.

Please, Lord, never let me forget the basis for such a blessed hope. Jesus died in payment for my sins. He rose again to show sin’s payment was complete. Those of us who remember this wonderful and blessed news and by faith live and die in Him shall stand at His side in heaven forever.

Thank God for your memory today. Blessed Thanksgiving Day. Amen.

Now the peace…

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