I am thankful for dalmatians, dominoes, and dixie cups.  I am thankful for downtowns, driveways, and dentists.  I am thankful for Decembers, decimals, and decorations.  And one might say that this covers my 3-D Thanks – squared.  But my mind is going in a definitely different direction (oh, those 3-D’s!).  I am thankful for the unknown caller from “BC” who buzzed me while writing this … particularly because she left a message to explain the purpose of her call (I might even call her back).  However, as I said – or at least tried to imply – my focus this morning is broader than any of these short lists … my 3-D Thanks has me thanking my God and Savior for my past … my present … and my future.

The past for which I am thankful goes much farther back than any of you have known me (though for this I am also thankful) … it even goes back way beyond February 16, 1953 (the day of my birth).  As I had the opportunity to share during school chapel at St. John last week (after being introduced by a very special kindergartener named Brooklyn), I am thankful for all of the creative work our God has done since the beginning of time (Day One, as Genesis calls it).  His work on those six days … and his ongoing work of creatively sustaining life and the cosmos throughout the centuries … is amazing.  And, of course, I must add my gratitude for his response when Adam and Eve introduced sin and death into the world … his immediate forgiveness and the promise to crush the snake’s head.  I am thankful for the way he has kept every single promise he has made … and especially for what he has done for me and the entire human race through the death and resurrection of Jesus.  And, since none of this would be appreciated without the work of the Holy Spirit calling, gathering, enlightening, and sanctifying the whole Christian Church (me and you included), my 3-D Thanks for the past is focused upon all 3 Persons of the Holy Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The past for which I am thankful also includes my family of origin, Monica’s family of origin, and the church that nurtured our families for multiple generations and brought the two of us together.  As I have often said, Frankentrost and the farm are a great place to be “from”.  I am thankful for my parents’ emphasis upon education and their support throughout their lives (even though they wanted me to become an accountant or an engineer).  I praise God for taking my parents home when he did (even though I would have done it differently) and for the family he has given me … and all the many different relationships (blessings) that have come through marriages and extended families.

I am also thankful for the way God has worked throughout the past in forming me for ministry – and then using me in ways I never could have imagined.  I am thankful for the churches in which I had the opportunity to serve over the years … and for the incredible variety of people and situations into which he has placed me over those years (oh, the stories I could tell, but can’t) … and for all the supportive and gifted staff and laity that he has consistently placed around me.  Looking back, I can sincerely say with great gratitude that the Lord “has kept my life – my going out and my coming in” (Psalm 121.7-8) with faithfulness and mercy.

And I am equally thankful for the present.  I am thankful for my health and vitality – though it is not the same as it was in my “past.”  I am thankful for my family – immediate and all of the extensions that spread throughout metro Detroit, Michigan, and across the country.  I am thankful for the opportunities to serve that God keeps providing … especially being able to focus upon my family (and the church at large) in new ways.  I am thankful for our condo … the “old” friends that we keep running into and the time we have to spend with them … and the walks that start off my day most mornings.  I am thankful for Monday suppers, Tuesday mornings, and “family time” on Thursdays.  And, in all of this, my appreciation for the gift of faith, and the friendship I have with Jesus, continues to grow.  Oh, my listing of present blessings could just go on and on and on!

My 3-D Thanks continues as I anticipate the future – both the known parts and the unknown.  The known is that someday I will see my Savior, Jesus, face-to-face and be reunited with all believers of all time in peace and joy for all eternity.  Whether this comes sooner or later, or whether it comes by his return to the earth or his calling me home through death, is both inconsequential and unknown.  Almost everything else in the future for which I am thankful is in the realm of the unknown.  I am thankful for the great food, football, and family that will fill the rest of this day.  I am thankful for the opportunity to grow old with Monica and the increased amount of time we have together in retirement.  I am thankful for the times we will have with our two sons, our daughter-in-law, and our granddaughters … and all the surprises that God has planned for the future.  With all of this I am thankful for one more “known” of the future … that “the Lord will keep my going out and my coming in from this time forth and forever.” (Psalm 121.8)

This leaves me wondering:  for which dimension of my 3-D Thanks am I the most thankful?  In one way I feel as though this is an inappropriate question.  The thanks I have for the past is exceedingly great … every time I reflect upon the incredible faithfulness and undeserved mercy of God as I have witnessed it throughout my life, my heart is overwhelmed with gratitude.  At the same time, the thanks I have for the present is also exceedingly great … while I used to say, “life is good” (remember the sign I had in my office?), I feel as though the word good should be crossed out as the sign now hangs in my basement office and replaced with the word “great”.  And, as I hope you are anticipating, the thanks I have for what God has prepared for my future is … exceedingly great!

Yet, I know – and I pray you do, too – the BEST IS YET TO COME!  The promise is clear.  “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29.11) This includes you, me, everyone you know, and his church here on earth (He’s in control, you know). Does this mean that there will be an absence of fears, failures, and fractures … no disappointments, deaths, or disasters … the elimination of evil events?  Not hardly – at least for the near future.  Yet it does mean exactly this for the ultimate future of all God’s children who receive the gift of saving faith that he freely offers.  Thus, one might say, the crescendo of our 3-D Thanks is yet to come – praise the Lord!

“Praise the Lord!  Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly! … Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!  For the Lord takes pleasure in his people, he adorns the humble with salvation.(Psalm 149.1-3).  Happy Thanksgiving, my friends … and my apologies for forgetting all about you last Thursday! (Who knows?  That might be something you are thankful for!)  And, in case you missed it, I AM THANKFUL FOR YOU … 3 times over.!

3-D Thanks