You can listen to my Thanksgiving Day sermon on the Saint Paul’s website, or read it below.
Happy Thanksgetting everyone! No, not Thanksgiving, Thanksgetting. Haven’t you heard, the good people at Verizon have decided that giving thanks is way too antiquated an idea, so this year, they’re calling it Thanksgetting, as in, let’s all be thankful for the stuff we can get now that Black Friday starts on Thanksgiving Thursday. Now, I’m not one who usually gets my feathers ruffled by what the great minds at high power ad agencies come up with in order to get me to buy things. I don’t get bothered by people lining up for a great deal… I think they’re weird, but I don’t begrudge them. I don’t even get angry that the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade is nothing but a three-hour advertisement for Macy’s and NBC, but for some reason, this Thanksgetting ad campaign really got stuck in my craw, so I googled it to see what others were saying about it, and found that this actually wasn’t the first instance of the word Thanksgetting.
As far as I can tell, the first time Thanksgetting was used in the media was November 13, 2010 on a children’s show called Planet Sheen. Planet Sheen was a spin-off of the popular animated movie Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, that you’ve probably never heard of. It centered around Jimmy’s less-than-genius friend, Sheen Estevez, who snuck aboard Jimmy’s rocket ship and ignoring the “Sheen, do not press this button” note, found himself four million and one light years away on the planet Zeenu. While working to get the rocket ship repaired, Sheen begins to teach the Zeenunians about what life is like on Earth.
In the 7th episode, entitled “Thanksgetting,” the Zeenunians celebrate their annual holiday, Zakmanus, which lasts for an entire minute. Sheen is less than impressed with the puny holiday, and teaches them about the three month long holiday season back on earth. The Zeenunians decide to try it out, and Sheen takes advantage, calling the season Thanksgetting and making it all about them giving him presents, presents, and more presents. Sheen gets everything he could ever want and more, but as you might guess, there is no real joy in Thanksgetting. Sheen learns that joy comes in giving. Of course, we all know this already, which is why we are here taking the opportunity to pause and be reminded that true joy can be found not in getting, but in giving, especially in giving thanks.
In our Gospel lesson this morning, Jesus is speaking to his disciples on the side of a mountain, but he could just as easily be talking to the millions of people who are making plans to hit all the great sales that start as early as 6pm this evening. “Do not worry…” Don’t worry about that 55 inch Ultra HD TV. Don’t worry about the interactive R2-D2 robot. Don’t worry about that ugly Christmas sweater. Strive instead for the Kingdom of God. I honestly believe that the starting place in striving for the Kingdom of God is in the action of giving thanks. That’s why the Church continues to call the weekly celebration of Jesus’ last supper by an ancient Greek word, the Eucharist; which literally means, thanksgiving. Our central act of worship, the thing that Christians have been doing since the very beginning, isn’t about getting bread and wine but giving thanks to God for all the gifts that he has given us: bread, wine, community, and above all, his Son our Savior, Jesus Christ.
And so today, we pause. As Santa is preparing for his annual ride down New York’s famed Fifth Avenue, as turkeys are roasting in the oven, as family and friends begin to gather, as football games get ready to start, and as the stores make their final preparations for an onslaught of shoppers, we stop, if only for a few moments, to strive for the Kingdom, to do the right, and good and joyful thing, to give God thanks for everything he has done for us. Happy Thanksgiving everyone, and thanks be to God. Amen.