Thanksgiving Eve


It’s a strange thing Moses says:

“…He humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.”

 The thing is everybody already knew that the LORD provided manna.

They ate it every single day.

Their fathers ate it.

They ate it.

And their kids ate it, too.


The manna they knew was not a luxurious food.

It was flaky and fragile, and plain.

And it was gathered up every day,

Baked into cakes, and served for food.


That’s the manna that everyone knows.


But curiously, Moses says that the LORD provided them with manna,

i.e. with food they did not know. More on that later.


A remarkable thing about the manna is that they were commanded not to try and save any of it.

In perfectly clear terms they were told how much to gather;

They were told how to prepare it;

And they were even instructed how to dispose of what was leftover.


If they tried to save any for tomorrow, it would spoil and invite worms.


In the wilderness, God let them know hunger, so that they would know His satisfaction.

He led them into humility, so that they would receive all things as gift.

He brought them into the land He promised them,

So that they would know He is faithful to His Word.


The lesson was to live every day in total dependence,

And every tomorrow with full trust, confidence, and faith.


Faith like that, however, cannot come from experience alone.


There were those in Israel’s camp who tried their best to horde God’s gifts.

They were really a lot like the lepers who walked away from Jesus in the Gospel reading heard just a few minutes ago:


Lots of obedience, but not so much faith.

They’ll take the gift now, “Thank you very much”

But that’s it.

After all, they have tomorrow to worry about.


What experience teaches is that

Folks can get food from the LORD in the wilderness every day for their whole lives,

And still not trust for the next day.


Lepers can literally get miracle cures, and just go home,

Not hoping for anything more from a Jesus who wants desperately

to give them life, not just for today, but for endless tomorrows;


You and I can get steady paychecks, and pantries that are full of food;

We can be healed of so many afflictions;

We can experience God’s provision in every way today

And still not trust in Him for tomorrow.


Experience is not enough.

If you’ve been around the church for awhile,

You may recognize this little bit from Luther in the Small Catechism,

Regarding the Lord’s Prayer:

“God certainly gives daily bread to everyone, even without our prayers, even to all evil people, but we pray in this petition that God would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.” (SC)

Experience is not enough.

Faith to live in total dependence on God’s mercy, care and provision –

Faith to receive gifts for countless tomorrows must come from something more.


Such faith must come from the manna that Moses says we did not know.


That manna is what St. Paul writes of in his letter to the church in Corinth, when he says:

For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:1-4)

Nothing is required to receive God’s provision today.

He gives it to everyone, even to wicked and faithless people.


But to enter the land that He has promised to us, and to our fathers,

To walk with Him in friendship in His new creation,

To live not just today, but forever with Him, in a new heavens and a new earth,

That comes from Christ alone.


And that faith, that Christ, You have been provided in fullness as a free gift.


You have been worded; every one of you, by the Word made Flesh, Jesus Himself

In the proclamation of His Gospel, in His holy absolution spoken here tonight.


You have been watered; one by one,

baptized in the water that burst from His side on the cross.


And you are nourished, bodied and blooded,

This very evening with the blood of the eternal covenant, here at His Holy Supper.


You’ve been given plenty of food for today.

You will probably have plenty of food for tomorrow.

But tonight we enjoy the fruit of His cross: food for forever.


For every time we did not trust.

For every gift we’ve withheld.

For every time we’ve settled for less than the fullness of what God would give.

For all that, for all of you, Jesus comes bearing every good thing.


As we know from the one Leper who returned,

Thanksgiving is returning to Jesus, again and again,

Today and tomorrow,

forever and ever,

And receiving from Him life and love and joy,

Full and free, and true.


It is God’s family, home again for thanksgiving.

And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.


About Pastor Hopkins