Some years ago, a famous gangster was on trial for a violent and brutal murder. There were over a dozen eyewitnesses to his crime and tons of corroborating evidence. The prosecutors' case against the gangster was airtight and overwhelming. So the judge almost keeled over when the jury foreman pronounced the verdict: "Not guilty!" "Not guilty?" the judge repeated incredulously. "how did you arrive at that conclusion? "Not guilty by reason of insanity, your honor," replied the foreman. "Insanity?" the judge growled, "All twelve of you?"
It's difficult for us to keep a grip on reality, and sometimes we lose our grip. Anxieties and fears that we may not admit can make us run to our private little world beyond the rainbow where no one bothers us with the truth.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in our use of the two-letter word my. My house. My money. My
property, my health, my life. That's the way we talk. But the truth of the matter is that none of these : including life : is really mine. Everything we have is on loan, given us a day, an hour, a minute at a time by an abundantly generous God. Nothing we possess is owed to us. We have no title of ownership. They are simply gifts, given not because we are good but because God is good.
So how can we express our thankfulness for the many gifts we have on loan from God? How do we show thanks to a God who already has everything? Pretty words wont do it, and we can't send God flowers or a box of chocolates. But that's okay, because the only thanks God really wants is that we use our gifts well, that we share them with each other as generously as God shares them with us.
We gather at JOS weekly to celebrate Eucharist. The word Eucharist has a Greek origin that literally means "giving thanks well." But thanking God well is much more than words. Thankfulness is expressed in action. It's an attitude that underlies our lives. It begins with our appreciation of the vastness and beauty of all God's creation. It continues with the recognition that we ourselves are an essential element of that creation, and it comes to fulfillment with the gradual reshaping of ourselves into the image and likeness of our generous, loving Creator. We image God best by doing what God does: Sharing our God-given gifts with one another, transforming our hearts and making us in a sense God-like. As we leave our Eucharist celebration this morning, remember our actions during the week are ALL part of this celebration in church this morning. If our actions during the week contradict the thankful spirit of our Sunday gatherings, we are much like the twelve people on the jury who won't see the evidence staring them in the face!
So we pray: Gracious God, give us thankful hearts to receive your gifts with joy and to share them with delight. Forgive our selfishness, our greed, our feelings of superiority, so that when your gift of 'today' draws to a close, you may see more clearly the image of your son Jesus reflected in our hearts. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen!