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Feeding Thankfulness Matthew 6:25 – 33 One evening an old Cherokee Indian told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, ‘My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.’ The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: ‘Which wolf wins?’ The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one you feed.’ I have to admit it, this year I am struggling to be as thankful as I normally think I should be. I’m not completely sure why this is the case. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I’m frustrated and upset and honestly fed-up with many things that are currently happening in this nation and world. Perhaps I’m feeding the wrong wolf inside of me this year… However, I believe that a case may be made that the concept of thanksgiving, of truly giving thanks, is foreign to many of us as Americans. We claim to be thankful for what we have on Thursday, and then we turn around a trample each other on Back Friday for the hot deals on stuff we want, but do not necessarily need. We claim to be thankful for the food we have to eat and yet tomorrow, I can almost guarantee there will be complaints about what is there or what’s missing on the table. Again, perhaps I am feeding the wrong wolf! There is another aspect of this holiday that bothers me. This is one of those holidays where we trace it back to a time when the Pilgrims or, if you buy into the idea that Virginia had the first thanksgiving then other early colonists, were celebrating a harvest and the Native American tribes of the area came to help them celebrate. If historical stories are true it is assumed the Native Americans provided much of the food and the first “Americans” were happy to get anything they could. It is one of the many times in American history when undocumented immigrants were helped out by those who were already here. Perhaps this is where my biggest road block to having a Happy Thanksgiving comes in play. I am frustrated with our current political dialogue that seeks to make us an isolationistic nation instead of the immigrant based nation we have always been. We also see people who claim to be Christians demanding that we go to war and send thousands of troops into the midst of a combat zone where victory is almost impossible to claim, much less define. It seems to me that if we allow the threat of a terrorist attack to control us and place aside our ideals and what defines us as a group and nation, then the terrorists have already won. SO I wonder, how can we begin to be thankful in the midst of this climate? To top it all off, we have been a nation in turmoil: politically, financially, and across cultures. The increased attention placed upon many in positions of power this year have changed the way we think about and see things. It seems that turmoil is on the rise, violence is an accepted answer to just about any problem and drugs – legal and non-legal, threaten to destroy the very fabric of our culture in these places. What do we have to be thankful for this year? Well, actually, many things! Let me feed the other wolf for a moment! We are thankful for the gifts of this place. For the beauty of God’s creation, for the freedom to worship without fear and the freedom to gather with other Christians. We should be thankful for this nation and the freedoms that we do have – especially the freedom of religion which means all religions, not just Christianity as some Christians seem to believe. We should be thankful for the safety we take for granted and the fact that there is always hope for a better future…something many peoples and nations cannot say with certainty. Our gospel text this evening lifts up the importance of our trust in God. As we think about what we really and truly have, we have a lot, too much we could say. We have things many peoples and nations only dream about…perhaps it’s even beyond their dreams. Yet, despite our positions of privilege, we must know that God has provided for us, abundantly provided for us. We do not have to worry about what we will eat, drink or wear! Therefore, because of our privileged positions, we are sent to share from the bounties we do have…share with all people, with all creation. These bounties are most beautifully shared by God for us through the cross. On the cross Christ emptied himself for the sake of the world and through the cross we are marked and claimed by God to be God’s people in this world. It is a holy calling, a calling that asks us to share who we are and know whose we are. I guess it comes down to the simple question, which attitude am I going to feed? Which attitude are you going to feed? We know that no matter what, our bellies will be fed tomorrow. But what about our thoughts, feelings, and outlook on life. Will we feed the grateful or ungrateful outlook? Will we give thanks for what we truly have or give into the commercial call for more than we need? One reason we wanted to do something different this year is many talk about and speak up about our law enforcement officers, yet few stand up to actually do something. We asked, through our contacts with the Sheriff's Department, that all deputies, state troopers and anyone else who serve in this area, that they come this night so that we can truly give thanks for all that they do. There is so much wrong with this nation and yet, these folks who have graciously gathered with us this night – our officers and other first responders - in their call to duty, they are tasked with protecting the rights and freedoms of everyone! Skin color, nationalities, religious beliefs, and any other differences that we may notice, they are asked to be blind to these and focus instead on justice and righteousness for all. This is a higher call one that calls us to look to the very foundations of our nation and asks us to look at the world as these folks do. Sure, they may have their own internal biases and feelings, yet, when they put on the uniform, they go to serve and protect everyone. This is the gift of thankfulness that we want to feed this night. This is the gift of thanksgiving that we can truly wrap ourselves into. This is the gift of knowing that none of us are perfect, yet we are called as a people, as a nation to look beyond our differences and uphold the rights and freedoms of all people, of all things, of all of God’s good and gracious creation. I pray that you…that I may feed our hearts, our souls, and our thankfulness this thanksgiving… that we may truly understand all that we are, all that we have and know that in feeding our hearts, souls and minds, we are strengthened to serve others and in the process being God’s people for the world!

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1 Justin Halloran = "Read all of Matthew 6 in the King James Bible"
2 Shawn Bose = "These are indeed the universal characteristics we all seek in order to live a good life in a community of others who feel the same.  I found and shared this wonderful Thanksgiving Prayer from the Haudenosaunee People which I found a powerful reminder of how we should express gratitude."
3 Heinz Weverink = "I'm somewhat lazy.  It's easy to give thanks, takes very little effort and it's free. But for an added measure of good feeling, for that special internal glow I prefer to simply give.  For me the best way to "give thanks" is to actually just give.  Give out love and compassion, give of ourselves.  Carry out our lives as a part of a greater whole insuring that all around us have what they need.  And we do that 365 days a year (366 in case of a leap year),"