Over the past couple of Sundays, I have been writing to you about the five kernels of corn. The story goes that the Pilgrims, during their first year, experienced not only hardships from the voyage over to the new world but also problems when they arrived. It was very difficult for them. They experienced harsh weather, lack of shelter and crop failure. In order to stretch their supplies, they were each given five kernels of corn to live per day.
You are thinking how could anyone live on such meager rations. It was more than just those puny seeds that kept them going. It was their faith in God that kept them going. Faith is the one thing that we can have in our lives that will keep us going when all may seem lost or unattainable.
In chapter eight of the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses writes, “Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”
After enduring everything and remaining faithful to the Lord, they were given a new set of friends, the Native Americans, who showed them what, how and when to plant their crops, where to hunt and how to use the natural resources to build their homes.
According to the story, the Pilgrims, after receiving such wonderful blessings and bounty, celebrated with their new friends the first Thanksgiving feast. Before enjoying the food, each Pilgrim received on his or her plate five kernels of corn. Each was encouraged to remember the meaning of those small kernels.
Today, we, too, remember what they went through and also have an opportunity to reflect on our experiences and to be thankful for the blessings and bounty given to us by our Heavenly Father. We should all look at our plates and find the fourth kernel of corn and be thankful for our loved ones given to us by God.
As we think of those who love us, let us also think about those we love. Each of us is a gift to others. We can be such a blessing to one another when we take the time to share whatever we have. It is so natural for us to love one another. That love transcends the blood ties of family. We have the capacity to love and help one another in good times and in bad.
In his final speech in the movie, “The Great Dictator”, Charlie Chaplin said, “You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don't hate! Only the unloved hate - the unloved and the unnatural!”
It is only natural for us to love one another. That love doesn’t come to us by accident. It is a gift that was given to us when God created us. He not only gave us life, but He also gave us the gift of love. Love comes directly from God.
In chapter four of his first epistle, John writes, “We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first.”
That passage can easily be boiled down to one immutable fact, “God is love.” God loved us so much that He gave us His only son as a sacrifice for our sins. Jesus loved us so much that he allowed evil men to nail him to a cross and willingly died for each and every one of us. He paid our debt of sin once and for all time.
When you think of that sort of love, it is a love that is undeserved and cannot be earned. It can only be given and it is given freely with no conditions or strings attached. It is, what many would say, perfect love. When we love one another and share what we have with others with no expectation of receiving any sort of payment in return, we are perfecting our ability to love one another. Our love for our family, friends and all around us begins to become more Christ-like. This is what we are all called upon to do, love one another.
In the same chapter and letter, John writes, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.”
Jesus, in chapter five of the Gospel of Matthew, takes it a step further by telling us, “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
If we are truly His children, we need to truly show the world that we are His children by loving and caring for each other. When you consider all the things we face each and every day, it is getting more and more difficult for people to make ends meet. Food, fuel and clothing prices are going up daily. Many are having to make difficult decisions to go without so that they can make it just another day.
We, as Christians, cannot ignore the plight of those around us and we must reach out in love to others and help wherever and whenever we can. In that way, we are telling the world that God lives in us and His love shines brightly for all to see.
As you sit down and enjoy your Thanksgiving feast and reflect on the fourth kernel of corn, thank God for those who love you and for the opportunity to love those around you. You are loved by so many wonderful people. Acknowledge their love by loving them back and loving others. When you do that, you are truly a child of God and can stand firm in His grace.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.