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Where Thanksgiving comes from

Pastor Darryl Miller

South Ensley United Methodist/Sand Lake United Methodist

South Ensley United Methodist Church Address: 13600 Cypress Ave., Sand Lake Phone: (616) 636-5659
Sand Lake United Methodist Church Address: 65 W Maple St, Sand Lake, MI 49343 Phone: (616) 636-5673

Leviticus 7:11-12 11: “This is the Instruction for the communal sacrifice of well-being that someone may offer to the Lord: 12 If you are offering it for thanksgiving, you must offer the following with the communal sacrifice of thanksgiving: unleavened flatbread mixed with oil, unleavened thin loaves spread with oil, and flatbread of choice flour thoroughly mixed with oil.”

One of the first mentions of Thanksgiving in the bible occurs in Leviticus 7. It is a description of an offering of thanksgiving, which is a part of a larger offering of peace. As part of the peace offering, this tells us that giving thanks is a part of finding God’s peace. Without thankfulness, there is no peace. If you truly want a heart of peace, you must have a heart of thankfulness. You must be thankful in all things. The offering was a different kind of offering in that it was to be several different things, unleavened cakes, bread, small cakes, even leavened breads, and cakes. In the bible, leavening represented bad things. So why would God include cakes of leavened bread in the peace offering? Because as Paul told us several times, we must be thankful in all things. Even the bad stuff. As C. S. Lewis said, “how can we learn to depend on God if the need never arises?” Even in the bad times, we are blessed to truly feel God’s presence and know His love for us.

The offering was also a heave offering, which means that it was lifted towards heaven as a direct offering to God. Paul tells us that thanks are pleasing to God and that just like the prophet Samuel said our offerings of thanks never touched the ground, our offerings of thanks go as the Jewish proverb says “from our lips to God’s ear.”

Another interesting thing about this offering is that it is to be eaten. Other offerings were burned completely as a total gift to God but this one was to be eaten and not only that but it was to be eaten as a community. The priests and the people were to share in the meal together. It is sort of like God reminding us that we are all one family of God. What’s more is that the offering was to be completely eaten on that day. It’s not that God isn’t fond of leftovers! Instead, this reminds us that each new day is a new opportunity for thankfulness. A thankful heart yesterday doesn’t cut it. We must be thankful each and every day for the things that God blesses us with that day. 

One final observation is that part of the offering was to be mingled with the blood of the sacrifice. The bottom line is that peace and thanksgiving are possible only with sacrifice. We can truly be thankful and at peace because of the blood shed by Jesus on the cross. We are forgiven and that is the only thing that brings true peace and thankfulness. Our hearts can be at peace and full of thanks because our sins have been washed away in the blood of Christ and we have been given the promise of everlasting life with God. 

I know that in this time of uncertainty we have not been able to gather as we would like for holidays, but remember, as the body of Christ, we are always together in the Spirit. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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