“Is There Anything in America to Be Thankful for Anymore?” (Psalm 73; Malachi 3:13-18; Deuteronomy 8:1-10)

Day of National Thanksgiving
Thursday, November 24, 2022

“Is There Anything in America to Be Thankful for Anymore?” (Psalm 73; Malachi 3:13-18; Deuteronomy 8:1-10)

The fourth Thursday in November is set aside to be the Day of National Thanksgiving. That’s the reason why we have the day off from work. Because this is when all Americans are supposed to go to their churches and give thanks to God for his blessings on our nation.

Ha! Yeah, right. How many people actually do that? Not many. Give thanks to God on Thanksgiving Day? Are you kidding? That would interfere with our Thanksgiving! No, we need the time to baste the turkey. We need the time to get the house spiffed up for our guests. We need to watch the football pregame shows. Or, depending on which gender you identify with, we need to binge-watch some Hallmark Christmas movies. Anything but going to church and giving thanks to God!

“Thanksgiving” seems to be an odd idea in our culture these days. Because it implies that we are to give thanks to God. And God seems to have vanished from our national consciousness. For most Americans, is there a vital awareness of God’s existence and involvement in our lives? I think not.

Oh, well, but you are here for this Thanksgiving service. And that’s good. It’s good, right, and proper that we gather and give thanks to God for his blessings on our country.

But wait! Have you looked at our country lately? What a mess it has become! We have to ask the question: “Is There Anything in America to Be Thankful for Anymore?”


Published in: on November 23, 2022 at 10:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“America’s Day of National Thanksgiving” (Deuteronomy 8:1-10)

Day of National Thanksgiving
Thursday, November 28, 2019

“America’s Day of National Thanksgiving” (Deuteronomy 8:1-10)

Ah, Thanksgiving! Turkey, football, movies, and the start of the holiday shopping season. No, wait, the holiday shopping season started back around Labor Day, I think. But seriously, is that what Thanksgiving has come to? Turkey, football, movies, and shopping? An opportunity to eat 2,000 calories in one meal, then fall asleep on the couch from all the tryptophan in the turkey? Or is it so guys can watch three football games in a row, from morning till evening? Or for the ladies to watch three Hallmark Christmas movies in a row? Then get up the next morning at 5:00 a.m. to go buy presents for people you don’t like, with money you don’t have, for stuff they don’t need? Thanksgiving has become the Eve of Black Friday. Turkey, football, movies, and shopping: Is that what Thanksgiving is all about?

Thanksgiving Day has fallen on hard times. Even Halloween seems to have eclipsed it in popularity. And the Christmas decorations and Christmas music on the radio and Christmas TV specials all started the day after Halloween. So Thanksgiving gets lost in the shuffle.

Oh, but it’s not as though Americans don’t like their Thanksgiving. They do. They like having the day off from work or school. They like being able to see their family and friends–well, except maybe for Uncle Fred, who gets the gas from the turkey, or Cousin Verlene, whose dentures make that clacking sound, or your vegan niece with the nose ring, who wants to argue politics over the pumpkin pie. But, for the most part, we Americans like our Thanksgiving. It’s just, “Don’t bother me with the ‘giving thanks to God’ bit.”

Well, I’ve got news for you: That “giving thanks bit” is the reason Thanksgiving Day exists! The purpose of this day is for Americans to gather in their churches and give thanks to God for his blessings on our country. That’s why Thanksgiving Day was started in the first place. This is “America’s Day of National Thanksgiving.”


Published in: on November 27, 2019 at 8:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Word Is Very Near You” (Deuteronomy 30:11-30; Genesis 2:18-25; Mark 10:2-16)

Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
October 7, 2018

“The Word Is Very Near You” (Deuteronomy 30:11-30; Genesis 2:18-25; Mark 10:2-16)

In the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses is having a review session with the people of Israel. They’re about to enter the promised land of Canaan, and Moses has some things he wants to go over with them. That’s the Book of Deuteronomy in a nutshell. Moses reviews all that the Lord has done to bring them to this point. How he had brought them out of Egypt, out of their bondage there. How he had provided for them during their wilderness journey, in spite of their grumbling and unfaithfulness. And Moses especially goes over how the Lord had made a covenant with them at Sinai, giving them the Torah, the Law, a way of life that would mark them out as being God’s holy people. The Lord gave them his law as a blessing. It truly is the best way for his people to live. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your might.” “Love your neighbor as yourself.” That pretty much sums it up.

The Lord gave Israel his law in the form of the Ten Commandments. Moses got them straight from the Lord on Mount Sinai and brought them down to the people. He had gone over these things with Israel time and again. And he told them to pass these words on to their children, to talk about them when they get up in morning and walk along the road and go to bed at night.


Published in: on October 6, 2018 at 9:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Teach Your Children Well” (Deuteronomy 6:1-9; 2 Timothy 1:1-14; 3:14-17)

Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
October 2, 2016

“Teach Your Children Well” (Deuteronomy 6:1-9; 2 Timothy 1:1-14; 3:14-17)

I don’t know if you noticed it, but today we’re having a Christian education emphasis in our service. Four of our hymns today are from the Christian education section of our hymnal. I’ve selected an alternate Old Testament reading, from Deuteronomy 6, which deals with teaching God’s word to our children. The Epistle reading, from 2 Timothy, mentions Timothy’s grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice, who passed on the faith to Timothy. And to that, I’ve added a portion of a 2 Timothy reading that will come up in a couple weeks, about how from childhood Timothy knew the Holy Scriptures. Even the Gospel reading today includes a warning from Jesus about not leading the little ones astray. So there is a strong emphasis on Christian education in the service today.

Why? What’s the occasion? Well, the occasion is that today we are happy to start up a Sunday School class for our children, to give them a foundation in the Bible. And this week on Thursday, we will start up a class on the catechism for the older children, to instruct them in the basics of the Christian faith and to lead them to confirmation and first Communion. This is a joyous occasion indeed! We are so glad and thankful to have enough children in our congregation now to be able to do these things. We are glad and thankful that we have parents now who care enough about their children to want to see them in these classes. We are thankful that the rest of our members are and will be supportive of these Christian education efforts. And so we give thanks to God for this great blessing to our church!

With all that in mind, then, and picking up on the themes of the lessons, our message this morning is this: “Teach Your Children Well.”


Published in: on October 2, 2016 at 12:38 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Thanking God for This Good Land” (Deuteronomy 8:1-10)

Day of National Thanksgiving
Thursday, November 26, 2015

“Thanking God for This Good Land” (Deuteronomy 8:1-10)

Today is the Day of National Thanksgiving. This is the day set aside for Americans to go to their churches and give thanks to God for his many blessings on our nation–which is why we are here today. And surely we have much to be thankful for, not least of which is this good land God has given us. So many natural resources, in such abundance! As we reflect on this, we are reminded of what Moses told the Israelites: “And you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.” And so our theme this morning, “Thanking God for This Good Land.”


Published in: on November 25, 2015 at 11:08 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Life and Blessing in God’s Commandments” (Deuteronomy 30:15-20)

Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany
February 16, 2014

“Life and Blessing in God’s Commandments” (Deuteronomy 30:15-20)

I am going to say something that may surprise you today: There is life and blessing in God’s commandments. “What?!” you say. That’s right, I said there is life and blessing in God’s commandments. But you respond, “But, Pastor, I thought the Commandments were there to show us our sin, that God’s Law actually condemns us. How can there be life and blessing in that?” Spoken like a true Lutheran. And true enough, as far as it goes. But there is even more to say about the Ten Commandments than just that. And that’s what we’re going to do now, under the theme, “Life and Blessing in God’s Commandments.”


Published in: on February 15, 2014 at 11:09 pm  Comments (1)  
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