Sermon Notes - November 23, 2019
Sermon Notes - December 24, 2019

Harvest Sunday

John 6:30 So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing?

We all love free samples. On a recent family trip to Florida, we overnighted at one of those new updated boutique-style hotels along the way. The furniture was modern and combined with a whole décor providing one with a futuristic contemporary view. The kids were amazed having overnighted at less updated facilities.

On observation, there were no longer free small bottles of toiletries neatly placed on the countertops in the bathrooms, but now larger bottles were bolted to the wall. Modern, contemporary, chic, but no free samples seemed to be the message.

My friends, we dwell in a world where cost savings and frugal living seem to be the dominant message with the goal of increasing one’s profit margins or conserving what little we may own. This message of course is a counter message to what Jesus seems to be proclaiming to his followers. Those who gathered around him were seeking to be convinced of his authenticity and would only be convinced if they received free samples. They wanted to taste the reward prior to their own commitment to God. This need for proof was like living with someone prior to the marriage.

Jesus, however, declared faith first demands a commitment to the cause.  It is the nature of faith to be willing to walk into the dark believing God is there with you rather than asking for the lights to be turned on before entering the room. That I believe remains one of the biggest challenges we face as we seek to proclaim the power and presence of God in a world that is still looking for free samples and asking for the lights to be turned on.

Christianity is not about free samples but about providing a foretaste of what God has in store for those who are willing to trust in him. Thanksgiving and Harvest celebrations therefore are not about free samples but opportunities to partake in that foretaste of which God has in store for us. When we give and share in Thanksgiving for what we have received, we are making a bold faith statement which declares, “all I have came from God, and I am pledging to continue to look to Him to uphold and sustain me”. Thanksgiving and Harvest is about soul food! The gifts we are bringing are representation of what God is doing in the present and will be doing in greater ways in my household in the future.

The book of Deuteronomy begins with a future gift.  
Deuteronomy “26:1 & 2 When you have come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, and you possess it, and settle in it, you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the LORD your God will choose as a dwelling for his name.”  This passage is a bold reminder of both a promise fulfilled and a important lesson for future generations. Many of our children are begging for bread today because possibly their parents were not taught the lessons of giving thanks as a foretaste rather than hunting for free samples.
Our Harvest celebrations is our attempt to pass on sound traditions and family blessings.  It is about remembering to place all our hopes and trust in the power and presence of God.  St. Paul shares in his letter to the Philippians  4:6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
Each Sunday we gather inspiring each other through our faith, prayers and generous support to each other as a foretaste of which God is breaking upon us. Faith is about looking back in Thanksgiving while looking forward in hope. As Christians, we are invited to constantly be proclaiming the powerful love of God which prevails in our lives and pushes us beyond the present. We give thanks while in pain. fear, grief or brokenness because Jesus is with us through it all. When we cry, He cries! When we are perplexed, He guides us! When we fail, He forgives us!!! Jesus is love in its fullness!  That is why we give Thanks. Today let this be a harvesting of our souls. We are giving through these food, fruits, and gift offerings filled with thanks for what Jesus is doing within us and among us. Our church is celebrating when others are dying because we have a message to tell the world.  In all things we give God thanks!