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Speaking at Ahmadiyyah Mosque on Thanksgiving and the Lutheran tradition:
Good Evening,My name is Hesham Shehab.I am an ordained minister at the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, and serve the Middle Eastern community in Chicagoland and share the Gospel with new immigrants and help them integrate in the American community.Imam Mohammed asked me to share the Lutheran tradition on Thanksgiving.A national day of Thanksgiving wasn’t part of Martin Luther’s life. Thanksgiving Day is an American phenomenon. But Lutherans celebrate Thanksgiving Day with a worship service firstly, to thank God for His Grace in offering His Son as a sacrifice on the cross for our sins and raising Him from the dead to be the firstborn, so that we may have hope for the resurrection of the body. Secondly, to thank God for this Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave that offers a safe haven for those who are persecuted for their religious belief or political opinions around the world. Maybe, a third reason to celebrate Thanksgiving with a worship service is to digest the turkey we consume on that day…just joking…a third reason is to thank God for the blessings and the affluence in this nation, where not many people go hungry.Martin Luther recognized God’s blessings to every living thing when he wrote “(…) since everything we possess, and everything in heaven and on earth besides, is daily given and sustained by God, it inevitably follows that we are in duty bound to love, praise, and thank Him without ceasing, and, in short, to devote all these things to his service.” (The Book of Concord, Fortress Press, 1959, page 412)In a world that thinks it can give God something, either by the way a person lives and by what a person does, Luther would remind us that God doesn’t need anything from us. Luther goes on to say that God wants us to be grateful and to honor him as God. “We cannot give God anything; for everything is already His, and all we have comes from Him. We can only give Him praise, thanks, and honor.” (What Luther Says, Concordia Publishing House, 1959, page 1353). And in a prayer at the end of his treatise on keeping children in school, Luther prayed, “God grant that we follow His Word to praise and thank our dear Lord for His precious blood, which He so freely offered for us [on the cross, for the forgiveness of our sins]. (What Luther Says, Concordia Publishing House, 1959, page 1354).May God keep us from the terrible vice of ingratitude and the forgetfulness of His blessings.And I seize this opportunity to pray for the hungry in countries like Yemen, Syria, Egypt, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, and other places in the world… and pray as Martin Luther used to pray: May there be a goodly share on every table everywhere.
In Jesus name. Amen.
November 23, 2019