Shared from a CLC pastor on Facebook (CLC and LCMS are in fellowship)
Thanksgiving turkey deboned in full and ready for the oven! Perhaps an unnerving sight - an animal deflated like a balloon, an empty shell of the form God once gave. Definitely not PETA-approved! But just the way God said to do it: “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them” (Gen. 3:21).
Not even the most die-hard vegan activist could be half as appalled as our first parents were at that first animal sacrifice. How their hands must have trembled as the hand of God carried them through that gruesome act of carving up a former friend!
It was a striking object lesson for the destructive power of sin. A metaphor God uses for us today, that when we show a lack of love for those He puts in our lives, we “pluck off their skin from off them, and their flesh from off their bones” (Micah 3:2). Imagery Adam and Eve saw fulfilled in scathing words toward one another, their own self-serving acts, and eventually in watching one of their sons kill the other.
We might think lightly of carving into an animal today, but striking images of sin and its consequences still abound. We live in a world filled with gruesome acts. We become unnerved by how others mistreat us and, in honest self-reflection, should be equally shocked at our own misconduct.
But God had Adam and Eve carve into their previous companion for the same reason He spiritually digs into your flesh today. He sends His Law, “piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow,” (Heb. 4:12) to show you your sin, that no longer so desensitized, you might repent and be clothed in His grace.
For that first gruesome act also taught Adam and Eve that their life could only be sustained by the death of another, a poetic image for a different “cover” God would someday provide. One which would require the death of His Son: “Without shedding of blood is no remission.” (Heb. 9:22)
So to earn your eternal life, God sent Jesus to suffer the wrath we deserve. Though He was able to “tell all [His] bones,” they were “out of joint,” as the spiritual duress of bearing the world’s sin made His flesh feel as if it were stripped right off: “My heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of My bowels” (Ps. 22:14, 17).
But the hand of God carried Jesus through His self-sacrifice for the most amazing of purposes. So that on the third day, as He rose victorious from the grave, you could be “clothed… with the garments of salvation” and your sin “covered … with the robe of righteousness” (Is. 61:10).
It is the God who first clothed Adam and Eve who provides you with everything you need to keep your body and life: clothing, meat, drink, house, home. Something else we think lightly of, as He “gives daily bread indeed without our asking, even to all the wicked.”
But by the working of the Word on the heart, the soul comes to realize He does so “purely out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me; for all of which it is my duty to thank and praise.”
Hard to believe as it is, I dismember my turkey not as some gruesome act, but for a reason. So too, take heart, dear Christian, that when your life seems shocking and unnerving, your God has a purpose, that you might find in the good news of Christ’s death and resurrection the true foundation of all good things, and in the forgiveness of all your sins, real reason to give thanks.
So as you carve into your turkey, take some time to reflect on how this world is not how God intended, but by His grace alone, your life abounds with blessings both temporal and spiritual through Christ your Lord. True thanksgiving which flows from faith in His all-gracious hand.
1. Now thank we all our God
With heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things hath done,
In whom His world rejoices;
Who from our mother's arms
Hath blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love,
And still is ours today.
2. Oh, may this bounteous God
Through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts
And blessed peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace
And guide us when perplexed
And free us from all ills
In this world and the next.
3. All praise and thanks to God
The Father now be given,
The Son, and Him who reigns
With them in highest heaven:
The one eternal God,
Whom earth and heaven adore!
For thus it was, is now,
And shall be evermore.