Sermon for Thanksgiving Eve 2021 “God’s grace at work”

*Sermon for Thanksgiving Eve 2021 Text: Deuteronomy 8:1-10 Theme: God’s
Grace at work*

• *In the Name 0f the Father…Amen.*

• *The Old Testament lesson serves as our sermon text for
this evening.*

• *Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God the Father
through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.*

• *Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:*

• Praise and thanksgiving,
Father, we offer
For all things living,
Created good:
Harvest of sown fields,
Fruits of the orchard,
Hay from the mown fields,
Blossom and wood.

• Bless, Lord, the labor
We bring to serve You
That with our neighbor
We may be fed.
Sowing or tilling,
We would work with You,
Harvesting, milling
For daily bread.

• Amen

• *Introduction*

• *Starting with our first parents, Adam and Eve, God has
given us a place to live, a place to tend, a place that produces sustenance
for our existence, a place that cares for us while we care for it. *

• In Genesis, “The Lord God took the man and put him in
the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Gen 2:15, Scriptures
quotations are NIV unless noted).

• *Later, God, through a covenant, gave a land—a holy land—to
his people. *

• *To Abraham, he said: *

• “To your descendants I give this land, from the [river] of
Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates” (Gen 15:18).

• *And of course later, after Moses had led the Hebrews out
of their Egyptian bondage and through forty years of wandering in the

• “Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the
top of Pisgah, across from Jericho. There the Lord showed him the whole
land. . . . Then the Lord said to him, ‘This is the land I promised on oath
to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your
descendants’ ” (Deut 34:1, 4).

• * Introduction*

• *The gift of a land to call our own is God’s pattern, right from
the beginning. *

• Today, the day before Thanksgiving Day, exemplifies and
highlights this—especially for us as Christians—but in more ways than that.

• *Thanksgiving Is a Day to Recognize God’s Pattern of Grace Always
at Work among Us.*

• *Of course, we, as Christians living in the United States, thank
our God for this land where we enjoy the ability to worship God as of right
now without persecution.*

• A land that produces much good food.

• A land in which to raise our families and build our homes.

• A land in which to live out the days of our earthly lives.

• *1.1 We see that pattern in God’s grace to provide for the Lutheran
Church through the Reformation and in its coming to America.*

• *But today, in preparation of celebrating Thanksgiving
Day, I want to remind you that we, as Lutheran Christians of The Lutheran
Church—Missouri Synod, should also remember what it is that brought our
Lutheran forebears to America in the mid 1800s.*

• *The Reformation took place in Saxony, Germany, in the
sixteenth century, triggered by events surrounding Martin Luther’s posting
of his Ninety-Five Theses on the castle church door in Wittenberg, October
31, 1517.*

• In fact, many of the events of the Reformation took
place in Saxony, which at the time was essentially a kingdom.

• There was no unified country of Germany as we know it

• Now, what you know as Saxony today, contemporarily, is
the German state of Saxony in the eastern part of the Federal Republic of

• But there are also two other states with similar names,
Saxony-Anhalt and Lower Saxony.

• Together, they make up what was the Kingdom of Saxony,
ruled by Prince Frederick the Wise.

• These are the heart of the Luther lands.

• *1.2*

• *Three hundred years after the Reformation, religious persecution
returned to the area, once again directly affecting those Christians who
followed the reformer Martin Luther’s teachings and theology as recorded in
the unaltered Augsburg Confession.*

• But this time, the persecution was different.

• The government was essentially forcing the Evangelical Lutheran
Church and the Reformed Church—what we would know in America as the
Methodists and the Presbyterians, among others—to ignore their differences
and merge into one church.

• Essentially, the Lutherans were being asked to abandon the
Lutheran Confessions, especially as found in the Augsburg Confession, in
order to bring only one state church to the area; indeed, false religion
was again the source of great troubles.

• The direct descendants of the Reformation Church again found
themselves being persecuted by the government for their faith.

• This was going on not only in Saxony but in neighboring Prussia
as well.

• *1.3*

• *Therefore, devout Saxon Lutherans—the descendants of Luther,
Melanchthon, and all those who fearlessly stood down Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V and the pope himself—now some three hundred years later, in the
1830s and 1840s, were again being persecuted. *

• *This time, they packed up, boarded ships, and settled in Perry
County, Missouri, a new world that would allow them to practice their faith

• *1.4 *

• *The leader of this exodus was Martin Stephan, a Lutheran pastor
from Dresden who appointed himself as a bishop after arriving in America.
These brave Lutherans, the forebears of The Lutheran Church—Missouri
Synod—our forebears—about 1,100 of them, wanted the freedom to practice
their Christian faith in accordance with Scripture, expressed in the
Lutheran Confessions, the Book of Concord, and so they bravely and
faithfully followed Stephan toward the United States in November 1838.*

• *Four of their ships arrived in New Orleans in January 1839. *

• *Not knowing that another ship had been lost at sea, they spent
some time waiting there. *

• *Finally, most of the remaining 750 immigrants settled in Perry
County, Missouri, and in and around St. Louis.*

• *1.5*

• *Later, on April 26, 1847, twelve pastors from fourteen German
Lutheran congregations met in Chicago, Illinois, and founded the German
Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio and Other States. *

• *Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm Walther, better known as C. F. W.
Walther, became the first president of the synod. One hundred years later,
in 1947, the synod changed its name to our present name: The Lutheran
Church—Missouri Synod. *

• *And today, the Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison is the thirteenth
president of the LCMS.*

• *1.6*

• *I take the time on this day before Thanksgiving to give you a
brief history of our own Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod because, while
tomorrow is not specifically a church holiday, without question, tomorrow
is a day that highlights God’s great mercies toward his children throughout
the millennia. *

• *God continues to bless us with his grace—that beautiful, sweet,
unmerited, undeserved goodness he shows toward us, his sinful and
rebellious children. *

• *What he’s done for our church fits his pattern of grace that is
always active among us.*

* 2.1 We see that pattern because of God’s grace in giving Jesus to
provide eternal blessings for all.*

• *That pattern of grace is all a result of God’s one great act of
grace. *

• *The gift of God’s one and only Son, Jesus Christ, who took your
sin and my sin upon himself and paid for those sins on the cross, is God’s
grace at work. *

• *And that one act of grace, Jesus’ death on the cross:*

• since it removed the sin that would have ever separated us from
all of God’s gifts,

• that this one act satisfied God’s wrath over our sins

• this act has reconciled us to him as dear children—that one act
of grace has made possible every other gift for every person.

• *2.2*

• *The gift of the Garden given to our first parents is God’s grace
at work. *

• *The gift of the Promised Land—promised to Abraham, shown to
Moses before his death, and given to the people who entered into this
Promised Land—is God’s grace at work. *

• *The protection afforded the Wittenberg reformer, Dr. Martin
Luther, as he faced kings and emperors and pope, in order to proclaim
fearlessly the pure, life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ—salvation by grace
through faith, without any work of our own—that is truly God’s grace at
work, in so many ways!*

• *2.3*

• *The exodus of our own forebears:*

• those brave Saxons who had their hand firmly on the
Gospel as recorded in Holy Scripture, who, when challenged, refused to let
go of that Gospel and instead chose to leave their own country behind in
order to practice their God-given faith freely here in America

• this is God’s grace at work!

• * 2.4*

• *Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the fact that you and I
are here today, worshiping the same God of Scripture—this is God’s grace at
work. *

• *For this same God protected our own ancestors, whoever they
might be: *

• original immigrants to the first thirteen colonies or perhaps
refugees just a few decades back from Cambodia or Laos.

• Perhaps slaves taken against their will, either from Africa or
from wherever they called home, literally ripped away and stolen from their
own lands.

• Perhaps immigrants from Mexico or the Philippines or Russia,

• recent immigrants from Africa,

• or perhaps a happy bride coming to this country with her American
soldier husband.

• Whatever the background, whether the trip to America was one of
optimism or one of terror, these are our ancestors, whom God has promised
never to leave or forsake.

• *2.5*

• *We recall the words of the psalmist in Psalm 121: *

• “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help
come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not
let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who
keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the
Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep
your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this
time forth and forevermore” (ESV).

• *Indeed, in our pilgrimage here on earth and our
journey to our heavenly home, our Immanuel God is with us. This is God’s
grace at work!*

• *2.6*

• *And so tomorrow, the day of Thanksgiving, we, many of
whom are either immigrants ourselves or descendants of immigrants, give
thanks to God that he had his hand of protection upon each man, woman, and
child as they came here, as they came here to America, regardless of
situation. *

• *And because of God’s grace at work in protecting them,
you and I are here today, November 24, 2021, worshiping God freely,
according to our conscience.*

• *2.7*

• *God’s grace at work! *

• *Our Immanuel God is with Adam and Eve at the fall in
the Garden*

• *He was with the Israelites during the time of
horrible Egyptian enslavement*

• *He was with those brave reformers in Saxony some five
hundred years ago*

• *He was with those original immigrants from Saxony as
they came to America to worship God freely.*

• *And He is always with us in the person of his Son,
Jesus Christ, true God and true man, true Messiah for the world! *

• *Thanksgiving is a day to remember God’s grace—his
living, active, all-powerful, and all-forgiving grace—and that is why we
gather here today and why we celebrate around the dinner table tomorrow.*

• *We gather to worship God. *

• *We gather to receive grace upon grace as we read God’s
Holy Scripture and hear his Word being preached to us. *

• *We received grace and forgiveness as our sins were
washed from us in those waters of Baptism. We receive grace and forgiveness
of sins as we take comfort in having received Jesus’ body and blood in,
with, and under the elements of the bread and wine this last Sunday.*

• *Conclusion*

• *Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this is God’s pattern! *

• *At a time when we were horribly and irrevocably lost, God saved
us from our fallen nature through his Son, Jesus Christ. *

• *Indeed, we have so very much for which to be thankful today!*

• *Have a blessed Thanksgiving, dear brothers and sisters of First
Lutheran Church. *

• *You are living proof of our God’s grace at work.*

• *In the name of God the Father, who created us, in the name of
God the Son, who by his blood has redeemed us, and in the name of God the
Holy Spirit, who made our bodies to be his own holy temple and gives us
that same faith that bestows God’s grace at work. Amen.*

• *Let us pray:*


*Father, providing Food for Your children, By Your wise guiding
Teach us to share One with another, So that, rejoicing With us, all
others May know Your care. Amen. *

*B. 2 Corinthians 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of
God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.*

*C. The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and
minds in Christ Jesus. Amen. *

*D. In the Name of the Father…Amen.*