Our Lord works through His Word and means. By means of flesh, the Son of God was able to bleed and die for our sins. By means of water, God puts His name on us. By means of a pastor's voice, Christ absolves us of our sins. By means of bread and wine, Jesus gives us His body and blood. Of all the means by which the Lord does things, those are the most important! Jesus, who is the Bread of Life, is truly our daily bread!
But have you ever stopped to consider how the Lord uses means to give us the rest of our daily bread? Let's take an example. When I sit in my recliner and watch TV, there is a little boy and girl in the congregation I serve who can eat. How is my watching TV connected to their eating? Well, their mom works for the cable company. So when I pay for my cable TV each month, she earns money from her job at the cable company. So, by means of my watching TV, and her earning a paycheck, these children are fed and clothed.
But it goes way beyond that. Think about all the connections that are made when that transaction takes place. When the money comes out of my account, a computer programmer at the bank earns money to buy his children what they need. When that mom I mentioned goes and buys those groceries, let's say a loaf of bread, all kinds of gifts from our heavenly Father are coming together. First of all there is His gift of sun and rain to water the fields where the grain grows. The Lord provides for the farmer who harvests and ships the grain. Men and women at a flour mill grind that grain into flour. Someone drives it on a truck, using fuel to drive that truck that was pumped out of the ground. People who make the boxes and bags in which the bread is shipped, the people who work at the warehouse and the grocery store, from the boy who puts it on the shelf to the nice young lady who rings it up at the register. At every step of the way, in every aspect of our lives, we see the gracious hand of our heavenly Father at work to provide for us.
Notice that a loaf of bread doesn't fall out of the sky whenever you get hungry. You buy it from people who produce and deliver and sell it. Do you see then how the Lord works through means, not just for our salvation but for every aspect of our lives? And why? Because we deserve it? Nope. After all, even people who aren't Christians have jobs and can buy bread. No, our Lord gives us these gifts, as the Catechism teaches, “only out of Fatherly divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all which it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him.” So, take a moment at Thanksgiving to do that!
But how do you thank God properly? How do you say “thanks” or “give back” to the Guy who has everything? You do what the Psalmist says: You “take the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.” (Psalm 116:13). In other words, the best way to thank the Lord for all His benefits? Live in them! Enjoy them! Receive them as His gifts! Don't try to pay Him back—you never could! Rather live each day expecting that your Father in heaven will provide for you! Use what He gives you for your good and the good of your neighbor, those around you. Enjoy whatever the Lord gives you as a gift.
As you enjoy the good things the Lord gives you to support your body and life, enjoy most of all the gifts that never perish or run out. As you eat your daily bread, feast also on the Bread of Life, the flesh of Jesus given for the life of the world. As you chug down your favorite drink, drink also the cup of Christ, filled with His blood, the drink of salvation. As you put on your sweater and pants, rejoice in the clothing of Jesus' righteousness given to you in Holy Baptism. As you receive and give thanks this week for the wonderful and varied gifts the Lord gives for your body and this life, give thanks by receiving and living in the truly eternal gifts that are all wrapped up and bestowed on you in Jesus. Happy Thanksgiving in Christ!