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Cornucopia of Thanks Musing for 11-16-22

The late Presbyterian poet Ann Weems is one of my favorite writers.


If the Presbyterian Church had poet laureates, she surely would have been one. Her words are both profound and powerful and they still speak to our world today. Even though she passed away in 2016 her words continue to both challenge and encourage me. I often turn to her work for inspiration and comfort and as part of my own spiritual devotional work. A while back I came across her poem, “Gifts from God” in it she pens the following:


“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

God’s mercies never come to an end.

They are new every morning.

The Lord God gave the peoples of the earth a garden,

and the people said, “That’s very nice, God, but that’s not enough. We’d like a little knowledge please.”

The Lord God gave them knowledge,

and the people said, “Now that we have knowledge, we’d like things.”

The Lord God gave the people things,

but they always said, “That’s not quite enough.”

So the Lord God gave them gifts unequaled: the sun

lightning and thunder

rain and flowers

animals and birds and fish trees and stars and the moon.

God gave them the rainbow.

God parted the Red Sea and gave them manna.

God gave them prophets

and children

and each other,

but still the people said, “That’s not quite enough.”

God loved the people

and out of ultimate merciful goodness God gave them the Gift of Gifts,

a Christmas present never to be forgotten.

God gave them love

in the form of God’s Son, Christ Jesus.

There are some that don’t open their eyes or their ears or their hearts and they still say, that’s not quite enough.

They wander through the stores looking for Christmas.

But others open their whole being to the Lord, bending their knees to praise God,

carrying Christmas with them every day.

For these, the whole world is a gift.

Everything we have is a gift from God.

And we are blessed with these gifts ------- not because of anything we have done --- but because of the nature of God’s love.

Unfortunately, too often ---- despite all of the gifts God blesses us with ----- - and despite all of the love God blesses us with --- we still want more.


Ann Weems does an incredible job --- of describing all the many blessings and gifts, all the offerings of joy and hope, and all the grace and love that our Creator provides to us.


You would think from that list we would not only be content but overflowing with thanks like the cornucopia that will adorn so many tables in the coming days.


However, the truth is that humanity never seems content. As Weems reminds us from the very beginning the Biblical story of humanity points toward our desire for more even when given all we ever might need.


And while we would like to say we as a species have moved beyond the story of the garden of Eden the reality is many of us most of the time still want more.


Sometimes it's stuff…another thing…more toys…


Sometimes though as one commentator notes “we want to know why things happen as they do --- and we won’t settle for anything less than an answer that satisfies all of our questions and concerns.”


Too many people including your pastor (I know my official title is commissioned ruling elder) want more despite all of the wonderful blessings God provides.


We choose to close ourselves off from the generous gifts God gives.

We discount all the bounty around us.

Instead, as Anne Weems writes in her poem – “we wander around looking for Christmas, looking for more gifts, for more information, for more something. As if we aren’t quite satisfied with how God is handling things.


Yet the Biblical texts from which Weems drew her inspiration for her writings call us to remember and give thanks.


As the 136th Psalm reminds us we should be grateful to God and give thanks as God is indeed both great and good and our Lord’s steadfast love endures forever. Thanks be to God.


Psalm 136 God’s Work in Creation and in History


1 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. 2 O give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever. 3 O give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever.

4 who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever; 5 who by understanding made the heavens, for his steadfast love endures forever; 6 who spread out the earth on the waters, for his steadfast love endures forever; 7 who made the great lights, for his steadfast love endures forever; 8 the sun to rule over the day, for his steadfast love endures forever; 9 the moon and stars to rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures forever;

10 who struck Egypt through their firstborn, for his steadfast love endures forever; 11 and brought Israel out from among them, for his steadfast love endures forever; 12 with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, for his steadfast love endures forever; 13 who divided the Red Sea[a] in two, for his steadfast love endures forever; 14 and made Israel pass through the midst of it, for his steadfast love endures forever; 15 but overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea,[b] for his steadfast love endures forever; 16 who led his people through the wilderness, for his steadfast love endures forever; who made water flow from the rock, for his steadfast love endures forever;[c] 17 who struck down great kings, for his steadfast love endures forever; 18 and killed famous kings, for his steadfast love endures forever; 19 Sihon, king of the Amorites, for his steadfast love endures forever; 20 and Og, king of Bashan, for his steadfast love endures forever; 21 and gave their land as a heritage, for his steadfast love endures forever; 22 a heritage to his servant Israel, for his steadfast love endures forever.

23 It is he who remembered us in our low estate, for his steadfast love endures forever; 24 and rescued us from our foes, for his steadfast love endures forever; 25 who gives food to all flesh, for his steadfast love endures forever.

26 O give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Alleluia Amen.


Clay

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