Advent Devotions: On sacrifice and thanks

Advent 2015. Design by Doug Puller/Bread for the World.

Editor’s note: This Advent season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals written by staff, alumni, and friends of the San Francisco Theological Seminary, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).     

By Rev. Ineda P. Adesanya  

Psalm 50

While reading Psalm 50 recently, I was struck by the following words in verse 5:

“Gather to me my consecrated ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”

What exactly have we sacrificed? Has it been enough? Sure, we experience many, very hard times…but sacrifice!? What does God need? But then comes verse 14 and 23:

“Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me;” “He/she who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he/she prepares the way so that I may show him/her the salvation of God.”

So what exactly is a thank offering…an offering of thanks to God? Each year in November, we set aside a special day to give thanks to God and others. Last month, was this a sacrifice? Likewise, many of us begin our prayers and conversations with God with thanks. Yet, we don’t typically think of those offerings of thanks as sacrifice. It is an important reminder to be thankful to God even in hard times when there may be few material things to be thankful, for we must, especially then, honor God.

We have begun the season of Advent, a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. Hereto, let us be mindful to be continuously thankful to our Lord and Savior. Thank God in the morning, thank God on your break, thank God at noon, thank God in private and thank God in public, thank God for food and shelter, thank God for health and relationship, thank God when alone and thank God in community, thank God so much that it resembles and feels like a sacrifice in your own mind, heart, and soul.

All thanks and honor to God! 

Rev. Ineda P. Adesanya is the interim director of admissions and adjunct faculty at San Francisco Theological Seminary.

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