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Reference

Psalm 100, Philippians 4:4-9
Not One; Not Two

PRAYER

Think for a moment...
of the sun and its light.

Now move your thoughts to
the ocean and the wave that flows towards the shore.

Now... a singer and the song.

A fresh loaf of bread and the aroma.

Is the sun and the light – One?
Is the sun and the light – Two?

Is the loaf of bread and the aroma – One?
Is the loaf of bread and aroma – Two?
I wonder...

On this Thanksgiving ...

with a beautiful display of things we are thankful for here before us;
  looking upon the faces of each one, gathered here in fellowship...
    water splashing, and children being welcomed into God family of church and community...

we are indeed thankful!

We have good reasons to be thankful...
each of us, thankful for a variety of different things.

Today, on Thanksgiving Sunday...
we are perhaps a bit more mindful of what we give thanks for.

Yet are we clear about whom to thank?

In my early 20’s, I moved from Windsor, Ontario, to Burlington, Ontario.

Until I found a fulltime job in Burlington,
I did some substituted teaching at a nearby nursery school.

Most of the time it was just a day here and there,
but in October I was asked to teach for the week before Thanksgiving.

Because the regular teacher had to be off sick for a while,
I would have to plan the lessons and the crafts for the week.

I was asked to come to the office before I went to the classroom on Monday.

The Supervisor reminded me that I could not mention God, or church in my lessons.

I was sure that I could manage that,
and still teach the children about being thankful.

So we made turkeys out of our handprints,
  drew hearts and pasted the word, ‘Thank you’ on each one,
    talked about manners and saying thank you when we received something,
      and what to do when we didn’t really feel thankful.

This group of eight 3 and 4-year-olds and I had a wonderful, joy-filled week.

All went very well ... until Friday.

On Friday one of the children came to school so excited,
he could not sit still.

We all gathered around and he told us about
  the leaves and yellow flowers and pumpkin pie
    he would be taking to church because it was Thanksgiving.

Barely taking a breath, he continued his sharing...
  ‘And we will take all the leaves up to the front,
    and put everything on the table
      and thank God for everything in the whole world.’

I smiled and listened.

A number of other children told about the things they would be taking to church,
and how God would be sooooo happy.

Then came the question:
“Teacher... why do we thank God?”

I imagine I smiled for too long...
because the question was repeated.

I don’t remember what I said but I remember
these beautiful children telling stories about church,
and their Sunday school teachers, and God and Jesus, and love.

One child wanted to know if God came to my church,
because God came to their church and God was everywhere.

At the end of the day, we gathered up all the crafts from the week,
and wished each other ‘Happy Thanksgiving’.

On my way out, I went to the office to speak to the Supervisor.
I thanked her for the opportunity to teach that week,
  and a few things about the conversations with the children...
    and then told her I would not be back.

I believe that it is God whom we thank... for all things...
yet, who is this God whom we thank?

God is Beyond the Beyond and Beyond that also.
The One in whom we live and move and have our being.

God is as close as our breath, present and full of delight,
and dancing with the stardust in distant galaxies.

We human beings, tend to personify God...
it is just easier to thank God,
when we imagine a person, just like us.

I can look at a person and say: ‘Thank you, Shirley, for being here today’.
I can see Shirley... I know she sees me.

And... I can say ‘Thank you, God, for being here today’.
But it feels different because I cannot look at God when I say thank you.

It’s easier seeing Shirley... and saying thank you.

Personification is how we relate
to something that is not a person... as a person.

Personifying God is not a bad thing to do.

Personifying God is only a problem when and if
we actually begin to believe that God is actually a person
and we then go on to worship the person who we have created.

Yet ... when we wander into the places where God can truly be...
when we linger in the thin-places where the Holy also lingers....
when we embrace the Sacred presence -

THEN ... God – how ever you imagine God to be....
will live and move... in, with, through, and beyond us,
and we will know it in our souls.

For me... that means that each one of us is in God,
and God is in each one of us.

Finding God is a matter of seeing God where God is.
A matter of seeing God
- who is in us, to sustain us,
- around us, to touch us,
- before us, to encourage us onward in life.

Finding God has little to do with church
and more to do with becoming the best
of everything we are... every moment we breathe.

Finding God... recognizing God... living into the mystery of Love, which is God...
is easier to do when we are perfected by gratitude.

We discover God:
with eyes perfected by gratitude
with ears perfected by gratitude
with our hearts perfected by gratitude
with our souls perfected by gratitude...

God is not a mystery to be sought in strange places and hidden ways.
God is a mystery to be discovered within us and around us.
God is a mystery to delight in.
It is God that we thank.

Expressing our gratitude for the many blessings that we enjoy
moves our attention beyond ourselves to those around us.

Embodying our thanks takes on whole new dimensions
when we begin to see God in, with, through and beyond all of creation.

Learning to give thanks to the source of our being,
the One who lives and breathes in, with, through, and beyond us,
is a life-long process and delight.

Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun, is an outspoken advocate of justice, peace and equality ...
and has been one of America’s visionary spiritual voices for more than 30 years.
She is a soul-stirring speaker and a gifted spiritual guide.

Joan tells a story of a seeker... a person desperately searching for answers,
who goes to a well-respected Elder and asks:

“How does one seek union with God?”

The Elder answers:
“The harder you seek, the more distance you create between God and you.”

“So what does one do about the distance?” the seeker persists.

“Understand that it isn’t there.” The elder answered.

“Does that mean that God and I are one?” the seeker continues.

“Not one, not two,” the elder answers.

“But how is that possible?” the seeker cries, dismayed.

“The sun and its light, the ocean and the wave, the singer and the song—
not one, not two,” says the elder.

You and God... not one, not two!

The elder in the story makes this point:
God and I are not the same thing, but God is the essence of everything that is.
God, in other words, is everywhere;
as truly in those things where we are sure that God is missing,
and in those things that we are sure are the perfect signs of the presence of God.

LET ME SAY THAT AGAIN....

God is everywhere;
as truly in those things where we are sure that God is missing,
and in those things that we are sure are the perfect signs of the presence of God.

Not one; not two.

The presence of God does not depend on an act of God’s will;
it depends simply on our own realization that where I am, God is...
AND ... where God is, I am.

It is the weaving of those two realities and mysteries.
God is where you are.... AND where you are, God is.

The sure sign that we are living in the presence of God,
is the way we see and respond to the rest of the world,
and each person we meet, every day.

Most parents teach their children to say thank you.
The lessons begin early.

And yet as hard as we try,
learning gratitude is not easy.

We can teach a person to say the words,
but feeling it and acting in response to gratitude, is a journey.

Living with an attitude of gratitude changes us.

Meeting God in the midst of a grateful heart,
can change the world.

Paul’s letter to the people in Philippi reminds us that God is near.

We are encouraged by Paul to ‘live with thanksgiving’
in everything.

Make a joyful noise, all the earth...
say thank you to God and let the sound of Love ring loud and true.

Rejoice in God, always; Rejoice!

We have been richly blessed.
And we can say thank you.

We can say thank you by continuing to learn
what it means to be love in the world;

by continuing to learn more about the One who is Love,
who loves without boundaries.

May we enjoy our Thanksgiving celebrations,
by pausing from our regular routines
to take some time to count our blessings.

Let God who is Love.... flow among us,
in between us and with-in us...
as we embrace family and friends.

And then, as the knowledge of our many blessings washes over us,

let us act out of the abundance we share,
so that the One who Is, Was, and Evermore shall be...
the source of all our blessings,
might flow swiftly to those whose needs are great.

We bring thanksgiving for the way we are blessed,
with gratitude we offer God our best.

And as we pray with thankful hands,
through gratitude we are blessed again.

The One we seek to offer our thanks and praise,
The One who is the source of all our blessings ...
is the mystery of Love... we call God.

Let Love abound!