Over the past few months we have travelled alongside the disciples on the latter part of their journey with Jesus.
On the road to Jerusalem, we witnessed joy as Jesus brought Lazarus back to life. We shared in the jubilation and excitement of Palm Sunday then stood silently, horrified, as we watched the unfolding of events leading up to Good Friday: the betrayal, arrest, denial, torture and brutality of the Crucifixion and the eventual death of Jesus.
From the depths of despair, we became alive with the disciples at Easter at the sight and sound of the Risen Jesus and the peace he brought to troubled lives.
We saw the energy and enthusiasm of the Disciples as they were filled and energised by the power of the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit that is promised to us and to everyone who will receive it. Truly, this is good, this is great news, but there is more!
Not only is there the promise of the Holy Spirit and its unlimited power to see us through anything and everything but, like the Disciples, we also share in Jesus’ assurance that He is with us always, even “to the very end of the age”. (Matthew 28:20)
Is that not something to celebrate? Of course it is! But, how often do we actually give thanks to God?
As I mulled over various readings appropriate for this Sunday, I was drawn back to one in particular, Psalm No 100, a great psalm of thanksgiving and praise.
1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
It is a short psalm of only five verses. Many may be more familiar with the Psalm as the‘Old Hundredth’: “All people that on earth do dwell, sing to the Lord with cheerful voice. . .Know that the Lord is God indeed; without our aid he did us make.”
This is a wonderful psalm which has at its heart our relationship with God. Put simply: God made us. We belong to God. God cares for us.
As we journeyed with the Disciples, we’ve shared not only in some of their highlights but also those times in their lives when they were at their lowest.
In recent times, so many have been journeying along a hard road. Some were unable to visit loved ones in hospital even when seriously ill.
It has been especially painful for those who have suffered bereavement with funeral services limited to very few being able to attend.
For all, venturing outdoors was limited to travelling for essential things such as food and medicines or take exercise.
Although there are promising signs that things are slowly improving, we are reminded that daily-living will be restricted for some time to come.
We have a long way to go, but as we accompanied the Disciples on their journey with Jesus, so we are reminded that to see us through whatever crisis we face, health or otherwise, God is with us; His presence, His power and His love.
It is something that has been demonstrated over and over again by the experiences of the first Disciples, by the people of the first Church and by the people of God throughout the centuries; and for that we can give thanks.
We—at the very core of our being—belong to God. God made us; we are His. You and I belong to God. We are not cogs in a wheel, or faceless, nameless numbers in an impersonal system. As the Psalmist reminds us, we are God’s people, “the sheep of his pasture”.
Today, as we continue our journey with Jesus, let us give thanks for that simple, wonderful fact! We are made in the image of God. He loves us with a “love that endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations”. Thanks be to God.
Let us pray,
Creator God and Lord of all, you are our loving Heavenly Father and we are your children. As we come to you in prayer, you reach out to take us in your arms, to hold us close and take care of us.
Each one of us you know so well that you call us to you by name and you love us with a love that has no limits. It is a love made known to us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ your Son.
Loving Lord, you know our innermost thoughts and feelings, our strengths and our weaknesses, our worries and our fears. There is nothing hidden from you, and so we can come to you just as we are.
In you, lives are made complete. You are all we need. You rejoice with us in our happiness, comfort us in our sorrows and strengthen us when we are struggling.
It is, with a grateful heart we give you thanks. We give you thanks that from life’s beginning until life’s end and beyond, we are known, loved and cared for by You.
Help us show our gratitude for these blessings by loving You with heart, soul, mind and strength, and by loving our neighbours as we love ourselves.
Amen, and may we all go forward in thanksgiving to God for His never-ending love and faithfulness.