Sermon November 27, 2016: Giving thanks

A propósito de Sermons
[Gregory Bishop (left) and Dr. Roberto Miranda]
  • Presenter: Dr. Roberto Miranda
  • Fecha: November 27, 2016
  • Ubicación: Congregación León de Judá, Boston MA

As you know we gather here for something and it’s the second time we have done this and it’ll hopefully become a type of tradition in the best sense of that word among us where we gather to say: thank You to God with an offering to Him of Thanksgiving.

And we connect with the people of God throughout thousands of years starting with the ancient hebrews that came before God periodically, in an intentional way come before His Presence in the tabernacle to give an offering of Thanksgiving for what God had done in their lives.

In many nations around the world the time of harvest is the time of Thanksgiving because God has provided yet again for us and that’s in fact how Thanksgiving started, the whole idea of giving thanks to God for His care, for His provision even after the long, hard winter, and in cities, and even in little villages and towns in nations throughout the world have celebrated moments such as this one, when they come together recognizing the provision of God and saying thank You to Him in a formal way.

And over the years I have shared with this Church our sense of mission that we are called to be an evangelistic presence for the Kingdom of God in this city and in the nation, and we are called to be an agent of life, of renewal, of new beginnings for the community around us. Providentially, the fact that God brought the major here today is a prophetic symbol of the fact of what we are here to do, we are here to serve in the Name of Jesus the city around us in a way that leaves impact.

And isn’t it beautiful? that in the day in which we live and when the political world is so hostile and where there is are all kinds of insults towards the immigrant community as criminal, as a source of problems that we as primarily an immigrants Congregation where we have many, many people born here, but as many, many immigrants we can shine as light and healing, and leaven in the breadth of our society.

Sometimes we can take for granted just how much God uses you, the people of this Congregation to serve our city, people through the high education centers, that are giving classes in the public schools, an agency that serves immigrants, people from many, many nations, people who serve our neighbors who are homeless or addicted through weekly breakfast and services in the shelter, God uses this Church to serve.

And all of this service, the spiritual service and the spiritual glory of people in this Church has a very material platform of facilities and rooms, and spaces, and resources that help the spiritual activity to take place.

Just as you know: this service to the community doesn’t stop on Sundays, seven days a week it is going on and there are days when you can’t find parking underneath because so many people every day of the week are working in this Church to serve the community in this way, and we thank God that many of these social agencies they find their funding from different types of philanthrophic organizations that help them to do that they have to do, and there are other invisible ways that God uses this Church to serve this community; there is a radio show five days a week at 7 A.M. every week day, a radio show that goes out in Spanish and I would say hundreds of people have come to us through that radio show that spreads the Gospel through the region, spreads the word of the Sunday sermons to people throughout the city, people driving around the city, people at home that can hear the Word.

Another invisible way that God uses to impact is through the virtual community through the internet that this service is going out through and touches thousands of people around the world every week and we thank God for the impact. I could go on and on about the many ways that this Church serves so many people of the community and around the world and it is thanks to God moving in His people the visionary generosity of His people giving to advance the Kingdom on Earth.

Everything that we enjoy as a Church whether it be our physical plant or different types of resources we wanna thank our generous God that has provided for us, thanks to God, and that provision has come through the people of God that give generously to the Kingdom of God to advance that mission on Earth.

You know my desire as a Pastor is to shape, to help mold so that people would be generous, generous towards the Lord and the Kingdom of God, generous people are essential for a Congregation that is able to be salt and light in the community that God is allowing us to be.

And there is a second value that is so important for Congregations if they are to serve the Kingdom of God and the communities where they find themselves and that is the value, the virtue of gratitude, without gratitude there can not be a true generosity towards the Lord, generosity comes from a grateful heart in other words, and so in the context of Thanksgiving this week we have come as a Congregation as a single family of God in so many parts of the city and in different ethnicities to express our gratitude towards the Lord for all the good things we have received, truly God has done great and wonderful things with us and He has blessed us in many extraordinary ways.

I remember when we came from Cambridge twenty years ago to Boston, in all the special services that we had celebrating in the original sanctuary, we read from Psalm 126 from verses 1 to 3, in the beginning of the Psalm it says: “When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream” and we felt like we were captive in the middle of a construction process, it was a time of tremendous sacrifices, and I would yearn for the time of finishing and getting our certificate of occupancy, and finally resting in our new sanctuary.

“Then our mouth was filled with laughter and our tongue with singing, then they said among the nations: the Lord has done great things for them, the Lord has done great things for us and we are glad.” I never thought when we first came here twenty two years ago really when we built the first building that there would be so many blessings as we have seen over these years here in Boston, this is why it is appropriate that we gather together as a people today to give thanks to the Lord for all the great things that He has done in our behalf, we have so many things to be grateful for.

In First Chronicles chapter 16, we are not gonna read the whole chapter but there’s a particular moment that we wanna look at, I want to take a particular image that encapsulates what we are talking about, what’s going on in this moment is during the time of King David when the Ark of the Lord had been captured by their enemies for a significant period of time and finally after that time of separation from the Ark of the Covenant it was being brought back to Jerusalem.

And King David wanted to celebrate that moment with a special act of celebration so the first thing that they did when they brought the Ark back and put it in the tabernacle is that they offered bird offerings and peace offerings before God, and we see that also, that vertical generosity is also meant to be horizontal because the next part of it was in a time when people of God were bringing something to give to the house of God as well, and that’ what we do when we are serving one another through the ministries of our Church and doing what God is calling us to do, we are serving horizontally, we are giving freely as God gives freely to us.

I studied a little bit the system of offerings that they were giving in the Old Testament, the Scripture offers a certain pattern, a sequence to things, the first offerings were usually atonement offerings, offerings for sin so that people could know that they were forgiven before the Lord, and after offering the sacrifices for atonement then came thanks giving and fellowship and peace offerings with which they were simply saying: thank You God for what you have already done in my life.

And that’s the pattern that we follow, isn’t it? we come before the Lord recognizing first and foremost that the sacrifice has been given for us in Jesus, that we are forgiven, that we are cleansed and that we are accepted children of God, and then out of thanks giving that’s why we give, greatfulness, not to earn that salvation but in response to it.

And in those offerings there was music, there were instruments, they were singing to the Lord, and David exhorted the people in Psalms 16:8, he would say: “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, call upon his Name, make known his deeds among the people, sing to him” sing songs to him, “talk of his wonferful words, glory in his glorious Name, that the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice” and then ahead in verse 24 it says: “Declare his glory among the nations, his wonders to all people, that the Lord is great and great to be praised”, and that’s what we have done today and we do it every Sunday, we declare and say: God, thank You for what You’ve done in Jesus.

And after inviting people to sing to the Lord King David invites people to give to the Lord from their resources, the spiritual expression of Thanksgiving that is in songs, that is in words is expressed practically through the offering.

In verse 28 King David encourages the people saying: “Oh families of the peoples, give to the Lord glory and strength, give to the Lord the glory due his Name, bring an offering and come before him, oh worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness”, and that is what we are doing this morning really, we are bringing our offerings before the Lord in an expression of gratitude, and I believe that what we are doing today we don’t understand it fully. I asked the Lord this morning to enable us in our hearts and our spirits almost mystically to feel and understand all that we are doing in His Presence when we come before Him as we bring our offering to Him this morning.

In just a few minutes I’m going to invite all of us today in an orderly way, we already have a plan of how it’s gonna happen, the families will come before the Lord to bring their offering just as they did in Israel thousands of years ago. To prepare us practically I want to just explain some of the things that we are expressing when we do this prophetic action.

You know: if you haven’t noticed we are on the other side of the building project and as we come forward and we give to the Lord in a way we are saying: thank You God, up to this point You have helped us Lord, You have brought us into this facility, You enabled us and many times when we were right at the edge and wondered: how are we going to get through this? God You brought us to this space. In many ways we are still you know, paying for some of the loans that came out of that time so the offerings are still going to complete the good work that God has already begun in us.

We are also thanking God for the institutional growth He is giving us as a Church, we are becoming more mature as an organization in those practical way of structure, administration and finances so that we can deal with things in a way that has integrity not only before the eyes of God but also before the eyes of people in the society.

And third, we are thanking God for giving us the tremendous privilege and honor of blessing our city through spiritually advancing the Kingdom of God among us, to be a presence that is life giving as we already observe here among us, we are also thanking God for the people that He has gathered around us, the diversity, the ethnic diversity, the social-economic diversity that we truly are a people that reflect the glory and the beauty of the Kingdom of God, and I can say this and God knows that it’s not a pride thing, it’s really not but what’s going on here is special, it’s exceptional, the gathering of people that He has brought together from so many different walks of life and ethnicities, and nations, this is not a normal thing, this is a spiritual and special thing, and we have to thank God for it.

And we also thank God for His spiritual gifts that He has unleashed among us every time we gather together, we are also thanking God for blessings in our families, for marriages that somehow have been saved and renewed, for children, for families united, for singles who are meeting that right person and are marrying here, singles who are being blessed as singles in the community of faith, we are blessed in our families and our homes, and our relationships.

And we thank God for His material provisions, so many families have been blessed with better employment and better jobs, and the Church has been blessed by the offerings that come in week by week, every little bit of it we recognize comes from the Hand of God, and finally, and I really want to emphasize this, we are thanking God not just for what He has done and what He is doing, but what He will do in the coming years.

When we first came here to Boston we never imagined all that God was going to do among us, my faith was not big enough to really believe what God would do and what He is doing, but we have seen God surpass our expectations; God has surprised us, God has pulled surprises out of His hat that we could have never expected but more surprises are coming, our God’s abundant generosity has no limit to it and we are thanking Him for that prophetically in this day.

Pastor Roberto: Gregory, why don’t you give thanks to the Lord for His words and for the prophecies contained within them, and then we will close this sermon, and then I will proceed to the next step. (Gregory prays in Spanish)

Pastor Gregory: God I thank You because You truly are good and Your loving kindness Lord we don’t deserve it, Lord we are not worthy of all that You have already done, God you have been merciful to us in Lion of Judah, God we recognize that up to this point the Lord has helped us and that same God who has been faithful is faithful today and will be faithful tomorrow, God we recognize that You are not done with us yet Lord, God so we refuse to let our guard down yet Lord God, we stand up and we say: thank You God, complete the good work You began among us, let this moment, let this offering be a prophetic offering saying thank You and believing what You will do in the future.

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