The little homily (homilette?) below was part of a Eucharistic service prepared to give thanks for donors to various projects to enhance our church and also to give thanks for those who actually did the work with mind and hand.
My colleague, Bishop James Jelinek, preached on what is to come; I was asked to preach on Giving Thanks and to put it in a theological/Biblical context.
All very unusual but done with a glorious purpose.
My sermon is below the audio copy of the homily.
Sunday September 29th 2019
The Reverend Alan Neale
If only we could fast forward two weeks… we would just have heard the Gospel reading from Luke 17; the story of the socially ostracized and physically maimed ten lepers. Jesus makes all ten bodily well but only one returns to say, “Thank You.” Of this one leper it is said, “You have been saved, made whole.”
The practice of saying “thank you” is somehow crucial, vital, essential to our total well-being.
A Bible passage often read at weddings is from the letter to the Colossian Christians, it contains this statement “whatever you do, in word or deed… give thanks” (3:19). This is indubitably a glorious foundation for a glorious relationship between partners, friends or colleagues.
When Jesus institutes, inaugurates, initiates Holy Communion we read (in all the Gospels) “he gives thanks.” When all hell is literally about to break loose Jesus “gives thanks” and thereby transforms an otherwise wretched situation. This primal act of giving thanks (Greek word – eucharisteo) leads some to call this service Eucharist; this primal act of giving thanks (Greek word – eucharisteo) leads us to call the church “an Eucharistic/thanksgiving community.” I am convinced that when the lonely, distressed, confused enter an authentic Eucharistic community they enter into the process of being saved and healed; I am convinced that when the comfortable, the settled, the secure enter an authentic Eucharistic community they are rescued from smug complacency and isolating self-sufficiency.
You mention Thanksgiving to many people and it will elicit images of over-indulgence, family chaos and waves of lassitude. But to us, a Eucharistic community, Thanksgiving brings images of vibrancy, vitality and vigor. I believe that the inclination, the disposition, the propensity to give thanks is the key to healthy living and such living is made possible as we grow in faith and trust in the Lord.
So McBean Trustees and HVAC workers, Landmark Preservation and Painters, Door Restoration Painters and creators of our Security, Parish Foundation Donors, not only are we deeply grateful for what you have done and who you are… we are doubly grateful for yet another opportunity to say “thank you”, it’s really, really good for us. Thank You… Amen