Thanksgiving Sunday yr. A, November 15, 2020

New Cov., Luke 17:11-19 & Deuteronomy 8:7-18

“A Basket O’ Plenty”

Today is the Sunday that we specifically set aside, to give thanks to God for God’s

generosity and abundance. Next Thursday, we’ll do the same with our families and friends. In about 30 minutes, at our annual congregational meeting, we’ll celebrate and give thanks to God, for the blessings we’ve received this year as a congregation and we’ll look forward and ask for God’s continued blessings in 2021.

But, what about the rest of the year? How often have we given God thanks, since this time last year?

The story goes that God sent 2 angels to the earth to collect people’s prayers. One angel was to collect all of the requests that people made and the other was to collect the prayers of thanksgiving. The 2 angels came to earth and began their task. The angel collecting prayers asking God for something was very busy. Every day the angel returned to heaven exhausted, with an overflowing basket of prayer requests. On the other hand, the angel collecting prayers of thanksgiving, searched far and wide, but day after day, returned to heaven with a basket only partially filled.

Whether we’re talking about our faith community here at New Covenant or our

personal lives, what do our prayer baskets look like?

The story is meant to remind us that our prayers of thanksgiving ought to be as

frequent as our prayer requests.  Not just at this time of the year, but all year long.

In our gospel lesson this morning, 10 request healing, but only 1 returns to give thanks. In our Hebrew lesson this morning, Moses says, “Watch out! Don’t forget about what God has done for you.”

Is our prayer request basket overflowing? Is our thanksgiving prayer basket only partially filled? Is our ratio,10 requests for every prayer of thanksgiving, like in our gospel lesson? Have we heeded Moses’ warning from the book of Deuteronomy this morning? Or, have there been times this year that we have forgotten all that God has done for us?

Is our prayer request to God for an end to COVID…For a return to normal…For a

return to normal worship…Normal fellowship…Normal choir…Normal S.S.? Is that prayer request matched by a prayer of thanksgiving? Is it matched by a prayer thanking God for keeping us safe and healthy and well? Is that prayer matched by a prayer thanking God for healthcare workers…Essential workers and scientists working on treatments and vaccines? Is it matched by a prayer thanking God for the commitment and the dedication of those who make sure that worship and music and study and fellowship is available…Every week…In some form?

Is our prayer request for God to lead us into financial stability for decades to come?

Are those prayers accompanied by prayers of thanksgiving for the wonderful gifts we have already received and the wonderful facility that we have? Are they accompanied by prayers of thanksgiving for the space to respond when our community needed us, to house an emergency shelter and a virtual learning center?

Is our prayer request for more individuals to join us in ministry and to be able to do a

mission trip next summer and to take part in a community pride festival next fall? Are those prayer requests matched by prayers of thanksgiving for the dedicated individuals who fill the blessing box day after day? Are they matched by prayers of thanksgiving for those who packed meal kits during Dream Week…For those who marched for justice this summer and rallied against hate? Are they matched by prayers of thanksgiving for those who fasted 30 hours…Who walked in the Crop Walk and who served meals at Sojourners?

What do our prayer baskets look like today? What did they look like this summer?

What will they look like next spring? Is the request basket overflowing? Is the thanksgiving basket partially filled? Is the ratio of requests to thanksgiving 10 to 1? Or worse, have we as Moses warned, forgotten all that God has done for us?

May our prayers of thanksgiving closely match our prayer requests not only during

this season of thanksgiving, but day after day, month after month and year after year. Amen.


Rev. Bradley A. Walmer,
a 2008 graduate of Lancaster Theological Seminary, where he received his Master of Divinity degree and was awarded the 2008 Rev. Delores Berry prize for preaching. He was ordained into Christian ministry by the Lebanon Association of the Penn Central Conference of the United Church of Christ on June 1, 2008. Prior to beginning his pastorate here at New Covenant on August 1, 2015, he served as the pastor of St. Paul’s Summer Hill UCC in Auburn, Pa  (located southeast of Pottsville, PA).

Pastor Brad and his wife Michelle were born and raised in Lebanon County and now reside in the area with their dog, Barkley.


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