2ND DECEMBER 2021
THANKSGIVING IN THE SEASON OF ADVENT.
Today's Psalm invites us to give thanks and praise to the Lord. Why should we give thanks and praise to the Lord? The Psalm urges us to give thanks to the Lord because God's mercy endures forever and we can take refuge in God and even trust in God.
Psalm 118 is an individual Psalm of praise and thanksgiving to God for a specific act of redemption in the psalmist's life, an act that he can't afford to ignore.
Biblical theologians point out that it is most likely that the psalmist is a king, perhaps King Hezekiah who surely felt such helplessness and distress as the army of Sennacherib laid siege to Jerusalem ( 2 Kings 18-19). In any case, the Psalmist believes he was as good as dead yet the Lord heard his cry and answered his prayer.
From this Psalm we learn that Israel's most foundational experience of God was based on God's power to overcome even the most menacing and threatening forces of the world not forgetting their deliverance from bondage in Egypt.
What is your most foundational experience of God? What is it that you feel threatens you; and when you are saved from it you will have a reason to thank God?We may not be in the situation in which King Hezekiah was in, surrounded by vicious enemies but what if our most vicious enemy is the misunderstanding that grace without ethical demand is just enough for our salvation?
This misunderstanding is what makes Jesus in today's Gospel reading say to his disciples, " Not everyone who says to me: "Lord, Lord, shall enter the Kingdom of heaven but he who does the will of my Father in heaven. " Anytime you misunderstand something it means that your chances of being wrong and stiff necked are very high.
Misunderstanding can also lead to ignorance.
This misunderstanding which we can say is like a fire of thorns that encircles and traps it's victims, leaving no escape or which we can say presses on someone like bees ready to attack, does not guarantee you an automatic entry into the Kingdom of heaven, what guarantees you entry is doing the will of the Father, and doing the will of the Father defines our relationship with God as our Father.
I started by saying that today's Psalm is a thanksgiving one based on God delivering God's people from vicious enemies, and connecting it to today's Gospel reading, we get the opportunity to align our words with our actions, we get the chance to take our faith a step further and not to be like the priest and the Levite on their way to the Temple going to say, " Lord, Lord , " but could not help a victim of violent robbery.
If God can save us from this dangerous attitude and misunderstanding that saying, " Lord, Lord" is enough, it means that our spiritual fortunes will be reason enough to thank God for enabling us to do God's will.
In the context of Advent, thanksgiving is important because the coming of Christ gives us the capacity to recognize that God's Kingdom comes to give spiritual wisdom and show us news of being.