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We Thank God!

Psalm 100

Thanksgiving is a distinctly American holiday; there is nothing like it anywhere else in the world.

The American Thanksgiving Day was an expression of the deep feeling of gratitude for the rich productivity of the land,
a memorial of the dangers and hardships through which they had safely passed, and a fitting recognition
of all that God in His goodness has bestowed upon them. In early New England, it was the custom at Thanksgiving time to place 5 grains of corn at every plate
as a reminder of those stern days in the first winter when the food of the Pilgrims was so depleted
that only 5 grains of corn were rationed to each individual at a time.

The Pilgrim fathers wanted their children to remember the sacrifice, suffering, and hardship that made possible
the settlement of a free people in a free land. The use of five grains of corn placed by each Platte was a fitting reminder of a heroic past.
Symbolically, it may serve as a useful means of recalling those great gifts for which we are grateful to God.
  1. The first grain of corn might stand for that wonderful beauty of nature that is all about us.
    We can truly say, "Thank you," to our great God for the beauties of nature that are all about us.
  2. The second grain of symbolic corn can remind us of the great men and women of the past.
    They have lived in every age and in every country.
    In our homeland great people have stepped forward to lead our people through great difficulties.
    They have inspired us by their vision.

    The dream of Woodrow Wilson of a united world has not yet come, but his vision beckons us forward,
    and we can pray, that in the future, his hope for a brotherhood of man will be a reality.

    We thank God for the great men and women of the past!
  3. The third grain of corn can stand for the work of the world that must be done,
    and some portion of which will fall to each one of us.

    There are times when all of us indulge in wishful thinking and dream that the good things of life
    may be ours without any real effort on our part.
    But, it is only in castles in Spain that the plumbing never leaks!

    Will Rogers said, "We don't have roses at our door unless we plant them there."

    Nor do any values and goods of life come to us without hard, conscientious work.
    Work seems to be a squirrel cage for some who are forced to spend their days in hard, monotonous tasks
    that crush the human spirit.

    An English child who saw the miners of the Rhonda Valley during the last Depression exclaimed,
    "Their eyes looked like vacant windows."

    Our work does not need to be a squirrel cage.
    It may be a doorway through which we may go to serve and to bless those about us.
    • The nurse may use her skill to help the sufferer in his hour of desperate need.
    • The salesman may use his work to move goods sorely needed by his fellowman.
    • The teacher may use his class as a start in reaching boys and girls who need advice and direction.
    • The engineer may leave behind him good roads, well constructed bridges, newly developed oil fields,
      and a multitude of machines that will take the drudgery out of the lives of others.
    If we choose our work wisely, we shall be able to say as did Thomas Edison,
    "I never worked a day in my life, it was all fun."
    We thank God for the work of the world that waits for our hands to do.
  4. The fourth grain of symbolic corn may represent our friends and loved ones.

    We say, "Thank you," and "You're welcome," dozens of times a day.
    We touch each other's lives and they touch ours.
    Usually we do it so casually that the implications of the ordinary words of gratitude and response escape us.
    Underneath the casual words there is a deep urge within us to be grateful and to express it.

    Someone holds a door for us, a waitress serves us our meal, and we are grateful.
    A driver of a car amazingly motions for us to go ahead of him enabling us to get in the right lane, and we are grateful.

    This is the way life should be -- full of courtesy and thoughtfulness.
    These are reminders that we are all dependent on each other.

    We do not wear our hearts on our sleeves, nor do we talk much about our friends and those at home.
    But within ourselves we know what joy we take in our friends.

    Our friends teach us to learn the meaning of that ancient Greek motto, "Know thyself!"
    Sometimes they are frank and brutal, pointing out our mistakes without mincing words.
    They may speak of trivial things, such as the color of a tie; but they also warn us of imperfections
    in our ideas and attitudes.

    To them we are grateful for the frequent renewal and glorification of life.
    By their sympathy and understanding they help us in our day of defeat and discouragement.
    By sharing our small victories, they double our pleasures.

    On those dark days, when bitter sorrow has been our lot, they have transmuted the bitterness and blunted the arrow
    that otherwise might have pierced our strongest armor.

    Emerson wrote, "Friends are not only for vacation times, but for days of shipwreck;
    not only to be with us on our pleasant rambles, but to be with us as we travel over the rough roads of life

    We thank God for our friends and loved ones!
  5. Only one symbolic grain of corn remains.
    We dedicate it to God.

    It is not difficult to see why the ancient writer of the Law of Israel cried, "The Lord, our God is the great God,
    the mighty and the terrible, who regardeth not persons, nor taketh rewards.
    He doth execute justice for the fatherless and widow... The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger,
    and abundant in loving kindness and truth

    It is not difficult for us to recognize the power of God.

    Every crack of thunder, every earthquake that stirs the earth to its depth,
    every comet's tail that streams across the sky -- all testify to the power of God.

    It is not difficult to appreciate the aesthetic quality of God when He has made so much beauty all about us.
    It is not difficult to see that only a rational, powerful God could create this great universe, with all its wonders
    revealed by microscope and telescope.

    Power, beauty, intellect -- all are revelations of God.
    But these qualities do not satisfy the hungering heart of man.

    The glory of God in the eyes of man is creative love.
    Much of what God is must always remain a mystery to us, since our minds are finite; but this we know,
    the quality in the personality of God is creative love.
    We have seen it, we have experienced it -- it is the most wonderful thing in the world.

    But God is greater than man; in Him, love is raised to the nth degree; it is the dominant factor in the reality of God.
    It is the ruling principle.

    Paul wrote to the Colossians: "Christ who is the image of the invisible God."
    • We can see God in beauty, power, and mind.
    • We can see God dimly in men and women at their best.
    • It is in Jesus Christ we see something more.
    His life is the expression of complete service and love.
    In Jesus we see revealed, as nowhere else, that same quality which is the chief characteristic of God -- creative love.
God's kingdom will yet come
God's kingdom is a kingdom of peace, harmony, good will, and abundant life.

It is with grateful hearts, mindful of the beauty of nature all about us, and the greatness of the leaders of the past;
thankful for the work of the world that must be done, and conscious of what we owe our friends and loved ones,
we can add our voices to all those who thank God for their blessings.

Sermon By Dr. Harold L. White
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