Thanksgiving Day (observed), October 13, 2019

Gospel, Luke 17:11-21

Today as we gather in the Lord’s house he is still all about this giving and forgiving thought the Means of Grace, through His Word and His Sacraments.  We were cleansed in the purifying waters of Holy Baptism.  And today He continues to heal us, to bind up our wounds that we incur in this life, all in the Divine Service.  On Thanksgiving we gather to thank and praise our God for all that he has done for us, and yet our God still blesses and gives and forgives, for that it his nature — mercy, favour, and grace.

And as we gather in the Divine Service we learn how to rightly give thanks, to return thanks, for this his service to us.  The Lord’s Supper is also called the Eucharist, which means “give thanks.”  When St. Luke tells us the leper “fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks” (Lk 17:16) the Greek word is euchariston.  So before we receive the true Body and Blood of Christ we do give thanks and pray before feasting at this table.  “Let us give thanks to the Lord out God.”  “It is right to give him thanks and praise.”  We offer a prayer of thanksgiving, and we say the Lord’s Prayer.  Just as Jesus gave thanks over the bread and wine in the Upper Room, so we give thanks for this bread and wine, Body and Blood, for us.  When we prepare to approach the Lord’s Table, the prayer of the lepers becomes our own: “Lamb of God, You take away the sin of the world; have mercy on us” (LSB, p 163).  Have mercy.  Give us what we don’t deserve.  The lepers prayed, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us” (Lk 8:13), and they were cleansed.  We pray, “Lamb of God, have mercy on us,” and we are cleansed, cleansed by the blood of Jesus and by his body, given to us in this Eucharistic feast.

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