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St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church

Vancouver, B.C.

Phone: 604-877-1789

E-mail: office@stmarymags.ca

Office hours: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 10:30 am - 1 pm

Home Who We Are UAM What Is On Sermons Contact Us

The Anglican Parish of St. Mary Magdalene

2950 Laurel Street at West 14th Avenue

Vancouver, BC, V5Z  3T3

Worship Times

Sunday Eucharist

10:30 am


Contemplative

Eucharist

Wednesday 7:00 pm


Diocese of New Westminster Anglican Church of Canada

Sermon

October 13th Thanksgiving Sunday, 2019                      John Marsh


Deuteronomy 26:1-11; Psalm 100; Philippians 4:4-9; John 6:25-35


On my way to the Thanksgiving table, I find that I need to pause to consider some passing thoughts…


In her book, The Gift of Thanks: The Roots and Rituals of Gratitude¹, Margaret Visser writes convincingly that within human culture there resides deep social roots of ‘giving thanks’, of gratitude, which transcending ‘mere niceties’, is expressive of an awareness of:


Mutual indebtedness directed toward the building and maintenance of social cohesiveness

Implicit covenantal expectations – bonds of affection or at very least bonds of connection in which our humanity – our ‘wholeness’, our integration, our well being is nourished

a sacred creative rhythm, the give/take of reciprocity, the relational, inclusive dance of social cohesion

Yet, while I agree with Ms. Visser, something still sticks in the craw when it comes to blithely giving thanks because culturally something has shifted²…


Despite appearances and endless rhetoric, something is out of whack, unbalanced, disturbing our equilibrium, creating the dizzying cultural wobble of psycho-social vertigo…


In the hyper-individualized, privatized realm of the ‘market gods’, missing is the social bond of reciprocity, the valorization of the common good, a social cohesion which grounds us as integrated human beings – balanced and balancing…


As such, within a consumptive consumerism masquerading as ‘human’ culture, there is a dislocation, a disruption expressive of an eruption, the ever increasing array of psycho-social problems:


The tidal surge of mental illness

The dynamic of addictive complexes masquerading as normalcy

The escalating violence of ‘business as usual’, in which those least able, pay the price

The disturbing rise of racism, white nationalism and fear of the other

So…


Do we have faith in these ‘market gods’ where consumption replaces culture, free trade masquerades as free will with free will expressing a belief in the survival of the fittest; where globalization promises universal salvation with body and soul but another corporate commodity and where, perhaps paradoxically, trade wars blind us to what is going on behind the scene?


Do we give thanks to ‘market gods’ demanding unquestioning servitude as the very expression of gratitude, a gratitude in which ‘the lifestyles of the rich and famous’ – to borrow a dated phrase - are promoted as ‘preserving our body and soul unto everlasting life’, lifestyles marketed and sold as reason enough for us to ‘feed on [them] in our hearts by faith with thanksgiving’³…


Or⁴…


Do we remember jubilee memories in which personal, institutional reversals reinstate that which was lost to the vagaries of life?


Do we ‘remember a new future’ in which thanksgiving for the gods was inextricably linked with gratitude and respect for all within creation - the ever redemptive at-one-ment of gratitude freely given?


Do we remember, do we hear, the voices of those least and lost, remembering the common good?


So, with these and other questions challenging my spirit...


I give thanks for⁵:


For those who ask inconvenient questions…


For those who laugh, cry, play and pray…


For those who are poor in spirit but impossibly rich in imagination…


For iconoclasts…


For a world of stories, songs, books and movies…


For those who take time to savour life, food, friends, family…


For those who cook food, bake delight and always seek to invite…


For those colouring outside the lines…


For a stroke reminding me daily that we are all disabled in some way and we are each others keeper…


For dreamers who risk asking, ‘Why not’ when hope invites life…


For dancers in a pedestrian world…


For the madness of the ‘turducken’, a chicken stuffed inside a duck, stuffed inside a turkey …


For those confronting life’s terrors, addictions and each day’s jagged edge…


For those whose break silence and come to voice…


For those who listen and learn as opposed to those who attempt to learn without listening…


For dog-eared cookbooks handed down and used with reverence...


For the blues, spirituals and all music of the soul…


For those who heal and hope while hurting and afraid…


For those who dig trenches and those labouring in the trenches…


For experiences of the sacred and others’ awareness of that named as god…


For poets, playwrights, artists and other practitioners of the ‘non-essential ‘…


For the taste of food when hunger gnaws body and soul…


For those who dare the absurd, risk sanity for love of humanity…


For all who occupy Hong Kong’s streets or any street...


For those who choose to dig in dirt instead of dishing out dirt…


For those who risk change despite uncertainty…


For those demanding gun regulations despite the insanity of the NRA…


For those who seek to understand something before critiquing it…


For ‘newborns’ of whatever age…


For those who seek substance over style…


For heretics, harlots and hussies – for all who bear normalcy’s judgement…


For generosity which surprises and inspires…


I give thanks, I am forever grateful for humanity risking life, humanity fully alive…


I give thanks


And finally, my beloved ones (and you are beloved to me), whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)   


 ¹ The Gift of Thanks: The Roots and Rituals of Gratitude by Margaret Visser (Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt) 2009.

 ² Truth to tell, I have problems with pro forma expressions of thanks and gratitude.

 ³ The italicized phrases are slight paraphrases of the Book of Common Prayer distribution sentence, said as the consecrated bread was distributed to communicants - The body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for you, preserve your body and soul to eternal life. Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for you, and feed on him in your heart by faith with thanksgiving. By this I allude to certain cannibalistic tendencies within market cultures.

 ⁴ The ‘or’ is a heuristic device and not meant to reinforce notions of life as a series of binary choices.

 ⁵ This list is an ever evolving, ever adapting, never completed list of that which I’m thankful for.