Loving gratitude

Author: Bishop M. Wagner
October 2022 



As little children we are taught to say thank-you. Two simple words out of a child’s heart said in an innocent way. As we mature through life we gain a greater understanding when we realize what is behind the gift or deed done upon us. It almost seems shallow to use the same words when a door is opened for us, as when we express our gratitude to our heavenly Father for giving us the gift of His Son. So, let us look inwardly and examine our sincerity.

To deepen our comprehension of this our Chief Apostle laid out three steps to enlighten us.

First – we need to appreciate the value of the gift. In this, it is not the tangible amount to be respected but rather the effort made and the emotional magnitude with which the gift was brought. Consider the lengths the giver had to go through, and the pains endured in order to make the gift possible. How can we as sinful people even begin to understand what moved in our heavenly Father’s heart to send His Son to earth to atone for our sins? There is a saying, “What comes from the heart reaches the heart.” We cannot analyze this with our minds – we need to feel and sense it with our heart and our own emotion. In the quiet moments when we pray the Lord’s Prayer we draw, as we sing in one of our hymns, “Near to the heart of God.” In this place of quiet rest we will again realize the significance of the Father’s love.

Secondly – we must remember the gift and the giver. In the consecration of the Holy Lord’s Supper, we hear the words of Christ, “Do this in remembrance of Me.” We are reminded of our indebtedness to Christ for His sacrifice. This is not to make us feel guilty or unworthy, but it rather stirs us to rise up to the challenge He expressed, “Go and sin no more.” This builds in us a momentum that when we are tempted to sin we remember Jesus – the giver and His sacrifice – the gift and reach back to it mindful of Joseph’s bold words, “How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” By utilizing the earning of Christ as a weapon against evil we fulfill our obligation of respect towards His death on Calvary.

Lastly – we should show our affection to the giver. Isn’t that what we look for at Christmas when we give our children and grandchildren a present? A warm embrace. Let’s take a lesson from Peter and Christ when he asked, “Peter do you love me?” “Feed my lambs” was the response out of Jesus’ heart. We want to show our affection by embracing His brethren with our hearts and feeding them with our nurturing care.

In such a manner is our loving gratitude expressed.

 

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