1 Thess. 5:18
November 20, 2016
There’s nothing worse than being unprepared for unexpected events. This is what our text is teaching us all this morning.
–You’re walking your dog in the park. The sun is out. Your Irish setter is smiling. The mockingbirds are quoting Shakespeare. The black swans on the lake are fluffing their feathers. It’s a perfect day. What could go wrong? And then you hear it. A crackle of thunder. And within seconds it’s pouring and your new Paris jacket is sopping wet.
You were unprepared for an unexpected event.
Now what I want to do this morning is to prepare you for the unexpected.
For example, you never know when a Greek tourist might stop you on the streets of Onancock and greet you and then hand you an apple. He’ll say (in his greeting) “Kalimera sas.” Good morning.– And then he will hand you an apple and then will he wait for a polite response. And this is where you want to be prepared. I’m going to tell you how to respond. Just say “sas efkaristo, (εὐχαριστεῖτε)” Thank you.
So now let’s try it. I’ll be the little short Greek guy who gives you the apple. And I’ll say “Kalimera sas.” And you’ll say, —-sas efkaristo.”
Now I know that you probably think I’m of my rocker this morning talking about Greek tourists and apples and greetings etc. Bur text this morning uses this very word–thank you. Paul says in the Greek text, “In everything —say—sas efkaristo. For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
In other words, it’s God’s will for you to say THANK YOU–sas efkaristo–to everything that comes your way. EVERYTHING.
Not just the blessings of life.
Not just the joys of life,
but to the difficulties, and the sorrows and the unexpected tragedies that we don’t understand. It is the will of God for you to say every day, every hour, every moment–sas efkaristo.
For when we give thanks for the good and the bad of life then we are one with God’s will for our lives.
Helen Keller was born on June 27, 1880 in Tuscumbia , Alabama. When she was 19 months old, she contracted scarlet fever and soon lost her sight and her hearing. During her early years Helen Keller became wild and unruly. She would kick and scream. People told their parents to place in her in an institution. But instead they hired a young 20-year old teacher named Anne Sullivan to work with her. But the results were much the same until one day the unexpected happened.
Sullivan took Helen out to the water pump. She spelled out the word WATER. The she began pumping the water and as it rushed from the spout over Helen’s hand, Anne once again spelled out the word into her hand. That’s when everything changed. Helen figured it all out. So excited, she stomped the ground and demanded another word. And another. And another until by nightfall she had learned 30 words.
Helen Keller’s life demonstrates our text. For instead of living her life seething with anger over her disability, she instead spent each day giving thanks for it. In 1980 Jimmy Carter declared June 27, as a Helen Keller Day at the federal level.
The title of my sermon is unleashing EVERYTHING. This is how our text begins. In everything…
Upon first reflection, I want to stop Paul mid sentence and protest. I think the conversation would go something like this:
Paul: In everything say sas efkaristo…thank you…
Me: Wait a minute brother Paul. Just stop right there. I mean that is not practical. Real people aren’t wired to give thanks all the time. You’re not living in the real world.
Paul: But David, that is God’s will for you. Don’t you want to follow’s God’s guidance for your life?
Me: I do but God knows I can’t give thanks all the time for everything. If I fall down in the street and hurt my leg I’m not going to jump up and say sas efkaristo. Not gonna happen.
Paul: Look, David. I’ve got a suggestion. Why don’t you start with small things. Give thanks for the food you eat. How about that?
Me: Well, I could do that.
Paul: And Give thanks for your family.
Me: Well, I can do that.
Paul: And before long you’ll find it natural and beneficial to give thanks when you fall in the street. And remember, that giving thanks in EVERYTHING is your goal. It is what God wants you to do.
Daniel would never have stopped and argued with Paul like did. In Daniel chapter 6 we the most incredible example of giving thanks in the midst of a horrible personal dilemma. Daniel had just been promoted by Darius the Mede to the top management position in the land. Daniel was happy to give thanks in everything. and 3 times a day he stopped working and went home to his prayer chamber on the roof of his house. He always opened the window that looked toward Jerusalem and then he kneeled down and he gave thanks for his great good fortune.
Those who were jealous of his new power devised a plot to bring him down. They had the king sign a law than no one could pray to another God. But Daniel was undeterred.
Read Daniel 6:10———
What incredible courage! Knowing that the new law prohibited him to pray to his God, he defied this order and went to his prayer room at noon and gave thanks anyway. Knowing what would happen to him, he still gave thanks.
Sometimes I’m a skeptic. I don’t always believe everything something tells me. So I found myself wondering if Paul really practiced this strange way of living–giving thanks for everything. So I opened the Bible and the pages parted at this text which I will read to you. (1 Corinthians 12:7-10).
Paul says in this Corinthians passage that he has seen things in a vision that were so glorious that words could not express them. And to keep him humble, God forced a thorn into his life. —Read (vs. 7-10).
When I heard Paul giving thanks for the thorn I knew that it was real for him and it could and should be real for us as well.
*I used to walk my Irish setter Reverend early in the morning when I lived in Cheriton. I would leash him as I walked across 13 in the early morning fog. But when I hit the farmer’s field and was heading toward the Bay, I unleashed him and let him run. He would leap and bark with excitement. And would run after him. It was one of those man/dog moments.
I want all of us to learn to unleash EVERYTHING.
“In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
I want all of us to learn to say sas efkaristo through the good and bad in life. For then and only then will we truly be in sync with God and find the deepest meaning of happiness in our lives.
Photo credit: http://allbackgrounds.com/be-thankful