Give It Up… for God!

"Give it up," says the Sacred Book, "Give it up for God, and for his son Jesus Christ." Praise is in order. Honor. Blessing. Thanksgiving. A constant ascribing, as the lessons teach today. This is our day to celebrate Jesus Christ, Lord and King forever, here upon earth. It's our day to begin the special, all too short season of giving thanks. Oh, how we need them both. Praise and thanks. They are medicine to our souls, and the soul of all the earth. Here's the thing, you see. We suffer from ADA. Most all of us. Ascribing Deficiency Anemia. (Bet you never heard of it, but it's true. See if you show any symptoms. How many of you have spent the week ascribing? No? Well, did you ascribe in school this week? Did your boss call you in and say, "___________, I want you to do a little ascribing for us." No. Did anybody punish their kids for ascribing-at-home this week, without parental supervision? Did anybody call a neighbor and ask for a cup of sugar to do some ascribing in the kitchen, just to get a jump on the holiday cooking? Another no. See… ADA …ascribing deficiency anemia! 'Bad enough we got this. Worse, we don't even know what it is. The world all 'round seems pretty clueless too. Friends, let's be plain spoken. Mr. Webster says to ascribe is to lay something on the account of another person, being or thing, Scripture says ascribing is our thing! Our Bible understands it like this: Give it up for God, and for his Son Jesus Christ, King of our heart and of our salvation.

Give it up for God for the fullness of his blessing. Praise him for his deeds, mighty… and small. Anybody can say thank you for a sunrise or a rainbow. Anybody can lift their arms and yell glory at the Grand Canyon. But the real work of praise and thanks is in the small. The ordinary. The unseen and unnoticed. A friend of mine got to go to the doctor with his daughter. She was expecting a baby girl, Sara, it had been decided. Today was grandpa's day to meet Sara for the first time. Ross was invited into the examining room to see the sonogram. He said, "It looked and sounded like a washing machine in a washing machine." Only after he spotted what looked like a matchstick… the forming spine, did he realize this was life in the making. "It drove me to my knees," he said. "So little, so unseeable to us, and yet so full of all the potential that God pours into every body and soul!" Friends, if you wanna get over your ADA (Ascribing Deficiency Anemia,) ask yourself this week, "What's the smallest, least seen or noticed thing, for which the thanks and praise in my life entirely belong to God?" Hold nothing back. Give it up for him. After all, that's what he's done for us. Give it up for his strength. Israel is asked to do that in the Chronicles. From the promises to Abraham, to the tents of Jacob, to the deliverance at the Red Sea, to the gift of the land of Canaan. Oh my. But there's a different strength to mark too. God's strength to open our eyes. Look at Abraham. 'Married to Sarah for years. She's traipsed ½ the ancient world with him. But only when he finds himself in peril does he see her for the beauty she is… praise God, finally. (He asks her to masquerade as his sister so folks won't kill him to take her for a wife!) God opens our eyes too. And don't forget his presence. (How many times have you felt him near and not greeted him in your every day life?) And don't stop ascribing glory to the Lord until you have given it up… for his judgments! Even, no, especially on you. I think this is a hard lesson. It was for Israel too. (Have you ever come to see God's glory in some time when he said no to you… when you wanted a yes more than anything? It's not just nations that are defeated or frustrated to bring them nearer to God. Israel in exile learned that. You and I are too. I remember the Smiths. 3 kids here. 1 comin'. First born gets in minor legal trouble for a night of postal polo… destroying a couple hours worth of rural mail boxes. Mom & dad mortified. Was our parenting not good enough? What a judgment! But the process of making amends made that family so much more whole. On-the-way-child, a serious risk for mom and doubts of baby's health. To go forward, or not? They did. Today, that grown child is the family joy. (By the way… his oldest brother mom feared a marauder… is a lawyer!)

Give it up for God in the rule of Jesus, King of our Hearts. Every week without fail we pray, "Thy Kingdom come… on earth as in heaven. If that's our prayer who's our king? Jesus. Only Jesus. Little wonder we sometimes suffer ADA. No wonder we're kinda praiseless. We forget, or ignore, or deny that Jesus alone reigns in our hearts. Do you grasp how bold it is to say this? How daring in our world today?

Here it is the week we revisit the Pilgrims and all the rest. (I do love that story so.) It's a naturally national time. But from Rome's treatment of the early Church forward, the authorities, whenever, wherever, have always felt at least a pang that they cannot rule the hearts or claim the conscience of those who call upon a different Lord. It was that very truth that sent the Mayflower to Plymouth Rock in the first place. So many will tell us this season of thanks is "all about family." I glory in family. No day passes that I don't give thanks for mine, yours too, by the way. But this Sunday of Christ the King reminds us that in the end, family does not remake the earth or assure us of heaven. Jesus does. Our praise and thanks belong to the One, the only One who can keep us from falling, and present us faultless in the presence of God's own glory with rejoicing. (Jude 1: 24) Amazing, the font waits weeks for folks to come. And then, we'll get weeks of baptism in a row. This is such a time. And every time is special. Today, a parent takes her Christian name herself, for the first time. And then, with her spouse, baptizes her own. The first act of the Christian life is to bring others to Christ. To proclaim that now there is no other Lord of my life than the Lord. And though the merchants and the bill collectors, and the PTA and the boss at work and the pushy neighbor down the block, and all the TV and music folks will do all they can to lord it over me and mine, "I've been signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit in baptism… and marked as Christ's own…forever! Ascribe to him glory, honor and praise!"

O yes, Give it up. Give up the desire and the delusion that we provide for ourselves. Ascribe to the Lord glory and honor that he has provided for us all, from here to eternity. Christ the King, the Day of Thanksgiving. Both contradict the most popular myth of our time. That we are on our own. In charge. In control. In debt to nothing and nobody for who and what we are. And what we have. You can't get from bed to breakfast in the name of Jesus by yourself. Did you provide the sun that rose to wake you? Or the confidence in the Son (that's s…o…n) who saves you to have the courage to get up and face another day? Who made the slippers you slipped into? Or the sheep that was shorn (not by you) for the warm fuzzy wool in those slippers. Who invented the alarm you turned off? Or figured out, much less built the indoor bathroom for which you headed? Did you grow those mountain beans somebody else ground for you to put in the pot somebody else made, packaged, warehoused, sold. Just so you could get your morning coffee? And as for that oatmeal, well that's another whole story from turf to table. See the point? And when you read your morning devotional, did you remember, truly, with praise and thanksgiving, the Christ who suffered death upon the cross so that you could live another redeemed day? And the gospel writers who brought you the story? And Paul, who said it belonged to us as to the Jews of Jesus' inner circle? And the countless, nameless saints who died so you could have the Word in your own tongue on your own coffee table? And Wesley and Luther, and Asbury, and yes, old Robert Nichols on the wall in the narthex, and all the local saints and sinners who have worked in the Lord to bring us here together today? You wanna try out giving it up for God in Christ this very week? Ascribing salvation to Jesus the King. Try this out Thanksgiving morning. Get up with a prayer of Thanks on your lips. Then jot a note of all those in your personal life who made it possible for you to pray. Begin with heaven, and make your way to last night's bedtime. Pick the best Thanksgiving thing for you. The worship Services the night before. The family. The parade. The meal. The ballgames. Dessert. Bedtime when the last dish is put away. Whatever. And then make a list of all who make it possible, on high to at-your-elbow. If you can, share your list with somebody you love and ask them for theirs. Then, alone or together, give it up for God. Thank him. Praise him and his only Son our Lord. O what glory, O what wonder! O what joy in our souls!

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