Happy Tail-wagging Day!

November 26, 2015

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

Thanksgiving Day; Year B 
Joel 2:21-27; Psalm 126; 1 Timothy 2:1-7; Matthew 6:25-33

A few days ago I saw a post on my Facebook Page that caught my eye. This is what it said:

There is a story they tell of two dogs.

Both at separate times walk into the same room.

One comes out wagging his tail while the other comes out growling.

Dogs

A woman watching this goes into the room to see what could possibly make one dog so happy and the other so mad.

To her surprise she finds a room filled with mirrors.

The happy dog found a thousand happy dogs looking back at him while the angry dog saw only angry dogs growling back at him.

What you see in the world around you is a reflection of who you are.

I think there’s a lot of truth to this.

Just yesterday, as I was trying to make my way through a grocery store parking lot, I found myself getting more and more frustrated. At 3:00 pm on the day before Thanksgiving, everyone is getting their last-minute items – including me. I was already envisioning the long check-out lines and decided I just didn’t have the patience for this right now, so I headed to another store, one closer to home.

Luckily, that extra drive gave me a chance to make an attitude adjustment.

Whole_Foods_Christmas_Grocery_Store_LinesYes, the next store was busy. Yes, the next store had tons of people maneuvering through the aisles trying to find their items… even that guy who squats down right in front of my basket to scrutinize the vegetable oil selection. He’s totally oblivious that he, along with a woman inspecting the spices across the aisle, are blocking the path for other shoppers – including me.

But, instead of becoming frustrated, as I had earlier, I took a breath and just waited patiently – well, I waited quietly at least.

When we look at today’s scripture readings, they all contain encouragement to look at things from a positive perspective by trusting in God.

Joel begins:

Do not fear, O soil; be glad and rejoice, for the LORD has done great things! Do not fear, you animals of the field, for the pastures of the wilderness are green…

and then he calls on the children of Zion to be glad and rejoice in the LORD their God because the rain has been good, so the grain is full and the wine and oil are overflowing.

Matthew’s gospel reading begins:

Jesus said, “I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear.

bird and lillies

He points to the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, which God takes care of, and in so doing, Jesus is saying to trust that God will take care of our needs as well. It ends:

Therefore do not worry, saying, `What will we eat?’ or `What will we drink?’ or `What will we wear?’ … But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

And Paul’s letter to Timothy gives us instruction for how to strive for that kingdom of God and God’s righteousness when it says:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.

It tells us to pray for all people, not just those we know; not just those we like; not just those who believe or understand God the same way we do. It says to offer supplications, intercessions and thanksgivings for ALL PEOPLE.

It says to do this so that “we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.” One where patience and grace trump frustration and judgment.

When we do this, expecting nothing in return, we move closer to being the dog with the wagging tail – and we begin to reflect that in the world around us.

I’m not saying it’s always easy.

getAssetWhen Joel says “do not fear” it’s hard to ignore the fear being instilled in many around the world by acts of terrorism and other atrocities. But instead of being paralyzed by fear, pray not only for those impacted by these horrific acts, but also for those who perpetrate them.

moneyworriesWhen Jesus says “do not worry” about food or clothes or shelter, yet you’re struggling to make ends meet from one week to the next – it can be tough. But, instead of focusing on the worry and letting that consume our life, we are to pray for calm, perseverance and guidance to see a way through.

And one more thing, Timothy’s letter says to give prayers of supplication and intercession, but also prayers of thanksgiving. In our prayer life, it’s easy to focus solely on what we need. But, let us also offer thanks for all we have.

Each Sunday we are invited to offer prayers of thanksgiving either silently or aloud. I’ve noticed, and this isn’t unique to Christ Church, that this time is often very silent.

ThanksDuring the season of Advent (which begins this Sunday) I encourage you each to come to Sunday worship ready to offer a prayer of thanksgiving – and say it out loud! Perhaps we will create a spark that will remind those around us that we all have things to be thankful for.

In doing this, we begin to balance out the prayers – still uplifting those in need, but also doing a little prayerful tail-wagging. I’ll bet that if we do this, we’ll begin to see more tail-wagging all around us.

Thanksgiving is a day to intentionally give thanks for all we have and all we are able to endure with God’s sustaining love. I believe that if we let this love show, it will be reflected to others we encounter, and THIS is how we begin to bring the kingdom of God to life.

 

 

I invite your thoughts and insights.

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