All You Need To Remember Is…To Bring Your Best Stuff

Praise gets us started goin’ the right way. Thanks is a leap on the air into a new freedom. We loose the bonds of gravity and find out we were made, not to fall, but to fly! Thank God for Thanksgiving!

Think computers, a second. Thanksgiving’s like hitting the Restore Button on the computer. It’s revving up the Refresh Tab that takes us back to a new beginning. Now we can get to the end we’d hoped for from the start! Think “Old Stories” for a second. A fella in the hills buys a mule off an old country preacher. The pastor explains the beast responds to religious direction. (You’ve heard this!) Start that mule hollerin’, “Thank God.” Stop him with, “Amen!” Well, the buyer sort forgets the code overnight. ‘Next morning’ he saddles, mounts up, musters a kick and a, “Giddy up!” Nothing. Oh, religious words required. “Repent!” Nothing. “Go forth!” Nothing. “Let’s pray.” Nothing. “Amen!” Off starts the mule. A “Hallelujah” puts him on the dead run. Now the poor soul can’t stop him and the cliff’s comin’ quick. Finally, inches from the edge he screams, “Amen!” The critter quits. The rider looks forward over the abyss and cries, “Thank God!” (Descending voice.)

Praise gets us goin’, the right way. Thanks is a leap of faith!

Coming to Thanksgiving, all you need to remember is: bring your best stuff, not turkey or pumpkin, but praise and gratitude, Amen and Thank God! I pray we find the Restore Button for our spiritual lives! And our family and community’s as well. Maybe then we’ll end up where we started for from the start. Old David got it right singin’ on the hillside 1000 years before Jesus.

MAKE a joyful noise to the Lord…! Serve the Lord

with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord is God! He made us, not we ourselves.

We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

A recent clergy gathering produced this understated word. “We need to reset our value(s).” We need to go back where we started from to catch a glimpse of where we’re meant to go. (JW) Make David’s song our own and we cannot forget. None of us are self-made. Because we’re not our own, we’re not on our own either! What a relief! What a blessing! To assume the posture of praise, in

worship or in life (Illust. Y), is to form with our body(s), the shape of our deepest question and our highest answer. “Why?”… am I here, as I am, at this time, in this world? “Because”… “God made me. As I am. Where I am, for this time and for this place for God’s pleasure! RESTART! I’m not here for the office, the kids’ runny noses, the tax guy, the yucky side of my spouse-boss-or-best-friend, the credit card company or BG & E. God is my “Y”; I am his “Y”!

Nothing matters more to me than He; ‘more to Him than I.

We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

REFRESH! That’s what praise does. It’s our best stuff for God.

Come into his presence with singing.

That’s what David says. It’s what Jesus does from the age of 12. It’s what he teaches his disciples to do, and they teach the church to do. It’s the first thing those frozen-as-a-popsicle-Pilgrims do when they plant their feet on these shores. Praise God… and you know you can start over tomorrow even after your every screw-up of yesterday and today. How so? Because the same God who made you makes every day a do-over until we get it right with God and each other. This is the message of the cross, best of the best stuff, a Praise postured “Y” whose arms have been lowered by the sheer weight of sin. The cross, whose embrace is Christ’s call to “repent” (Refresh), “start over” and become what you were meant to be, company for God in the walk through Eden, just like Grandpa Adam and Grandma Eve… from the start!

Come the Season-of-Gratitude, THANKS is no platitude; it’s the best stuff. It’s all we need to remember! Thanks has a lifespan, not just a word span. For Believers, Jesus-People like you and me, thanks tells a tale, lives out a message. Thanks has a Bible story all its own. “Many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. All who believed were together, held all things in common, distributed them to all, as any had need. Daily attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, praising God, finding favor with everyone. Daily(!) the Lord added to their number those being saved.” (Acts 2) As an act of the most radical thanksgiving, I invite you to consider. What must it feel like to hold both all things and all faith in common?  Imagine nobody hungry, needy. ‘Deepest

sharing as the loudest, longest praise and thanks to God! My friend Jim Wallace is right, “We must learn again that true freedom lies somewhere between a dull, bleak life and a life of opulence and greed… where credit cards are our chains and debt our prison-without-pardon!” (KMH Alt.) The early church celebrates very different priorities and thanks than ours. We ease out our belt buckles on Thanksgiving night. They emptied their pockets for their neighbors. We crave family time. They, community time (especially to pray). Their signs and wonders: healings (just from the shadows of believers passing by), and changings (lost souls forever found). Our signs and wonders? The ‘Skins and the Ravens don’t get shellacked today. And Friday’s sales put the stores in the black and our people up-from-the-blues! Somehow I am struck by this contrast. The best-of-the-best come the Great-Day-of-Thanks has more to do with how we share… than how we slice the turkey or linger over those Lions from Detroit!

A century ago, the Shakers caught the vision Believer’s thanks. They sang it this way. Some of us still know the words, “ ‘Tis a gift to be simple; ‘tis a gift to be free. ‘Tis a gift to come down where we ought to be. And when we find ourselves in the place just right, it will be in the valley of love and delight.” Last Sunday night, Jim Gourley, just back from Zimbabwe shared with us. Among his pix, the women of a village, who dug the clay, wedged the forms, baked the bricks and wheel-barrowed them to the foundation… to build up the walls of their church. Slides later, the same women on hands and knees, scrubbing the concrete floor. Then: the dedication. Officials there. Men folk there and kids. Choirs for singing, children for delighting. But from the background, the most glorious thanksgiving of all: the warbling of the women (lulululu). Jim remarked how transporting, it was. And only the women can and do… do it. I thought to myself, “I guess you just can’t sing the highest joy ‘til you’ve baked the hottest bricks in the hottest sun. And scrubbed the most stubborn soil from the floor on which you stand.” O what thanks that can be! May it come to you… and me. …On thanksgiving just remember: best of the best… praise… and thanks. We are his people, praise God, and the sheep of his pasture. Thanks is a life, not a day. Live it, from your hands and knees, to the heart of your heart!

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