“Great are the works of the Lord, Psalm 111 says, “studied by all who delight in him. Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever. He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and merciful.” The apostle Paul notes that the world testifies to the glory of its Creator. When we slow down and observe the natural beauty surrounding us, we begin to understand why we sing songs like How Great Thou Are and Praise the Lord, ye heavens adore him.” When I saw multitudes of stars in a cloudless sky as I stood in a dark Mojave desert, or I witnessed the majesty of the ocean’s crashing waves during a storm in Hawaii, or I enjoyed the changing of leaves in the fall or the glistening of ice on barren tree limbs during the past two weeks, I have realized the grandeur and the beauty of God’s creation. You have your own memories of beauty that captured your imagination and fired your faith in God, that perhaps drove you to your knees in humbled prayer as you acknowledged the incomprehensible power and frightening intelligence of a being that could create this universe. The words of Genesis, Psalms, and the prophets in the Bible reflect on God’s creative process. They remind us that God imagined then created this beauty. The stars, the moon, the sun, the ocean are not gods to worship. They are created by the God that we assembled here today to thank and to praise.
Earlier this year, I preached from Exodus 34, where in verses 6-7 God describes himself to Moses as “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty… Those words of God foreshadow the praise of Psalm 111. God loves, and because he loves he provides. Today, many will sit down to feast upon turkey, roast beef, sweet potatoes, and green bean casserole, surrounded by family and friends. Others may eat alone, perhaps feeling abandoned or mourning the absence of loved ones. I pray that they will realize God’s love for them on this day.
Psalm 111 reminds us of the source of our food. It reminds us that God keeps his promises. His works are dependable. We count on the sun rising in the east and the tides rolling in. We look to certain parts of the sky expecting to see specific groups of stars. After we have lived somewhere for a time, we gain sense of when one season will segue into the next. The Psalmist testifies, “The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy; they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.” We thank God because we live in a world that despite crazy weather at times, functions in an orderly fashion.
I pray that you will know joy and love on this day! Happy Thanksgiving!
O Immortal Creator, your Cosmos astonishes us with its magnitude and beauty. Imagining a force, a being, who could fashion such challenges, yet sparks faith and hope. We thank you for life, and for a world that has predictability. Even when fires and storms destroy, life surges back in the aftermath. We marvel that your power is accompanied by love and we rejoice that we have received the benefits of that love. We pray that you will bless the lonely and bring hope for the poor on this day. Thank you for the opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving. In Jesus’ name, amen.