In the beginning of our history for this country the Pilgrims came to worship God freely. They sought a place safe from tyranny and persecution. They weren’t asking for much, just their lives and freedom to worship God.
So they fled , the hunted seeking shelter and a new home. They came to these shores, the strangers in a new land, unequipped and unprepared. It took the welcome of the people who were here first to help them survive. They needed that welcome and they received it gratefully.
It seems though that they were only grateful for so long. Once they learned how to do for themselves they declared this nation their own gift, theirs to own and conquer and they forgot themselves, their hosts, and their thankfulness. Not unlike the Israelites in the desert creating their own golden calf to worship. They pushed out the very ones who helped them, who welcomed them, who fought for their lives with them. The hunted became the hunters. They forgot themselves and the gifts given and they turned God into their bully as they waged wars in belief that this land was theirs to pillage and rape.
The mustard seed did not remain a seed. It was changed- broken open and gave up its life, as it was, to become something new. Our history of Thanksgiving and the ugliness that followed is uncomfortable and seems to be all around us these days- as though we cannot deny it any longer. I believe just like the mustard seed, our nation has an opportunity in this new era of awareness to give up our life to become something new. We have an opportunity to return to right thankfulness, a thanks giving that recognizes that what we have is not ours, but is God’s and that we are simply stewards of it. We have a chance to offer apology by choosing to honor the hard stewardship lessons our native brothers and sisters can teach us even today. We can begin to care for the land we are on, not as ours personally but ours shared for these generations as well as those to come. We have a chance to be different from other nations and instead of putting up walls, we can tear them down. Instead of keeping refugees who seek a safe place to live and sleep out of this land, we can learn from the welcome our ancestors received and we can give life by letting them in, too. We can deny the ugly heritage but only when we refuse to live into the story anymore will the true change be wrought.
Native American people believed that there was plenty for all- they did not live in fear of us, we taught them that fear. But beloved, our God is not a god of scarcity. Our God is a god of bounty and plenty. Our God is a god of fields of flowing grain and rivers of crystal waters, our God is THE God of plenty where there is always enough and more to share.
This year, I urge us to remember ourselves. Remember our God. Remember that we can be broken open to become something new and offer life to others in doing so, just as our Savior did on the cross. Remember that we do not need to hoard what is around us, but open it up to share. So, open your homes, open your wallets, open your cupboards, open your hearts, and open your lives. Do not be afraid, be instead be thankful, truly offering up all we have and are to our God. Be the mustard seed and let God break you open this Thanksgiving. Let us become new, for in Christ, we are always being made new. Amen.