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Simply saying thank you

July 11, 2017 No Comment
President Thomas Prachar

President Thomas Prachar

by Thomas Prachar

I have this annoying habit that when someone presents me with a gift, I am at a loss as to how to respond. If it’s not Christmas or my birthday (or maybe even if it is), I don’t know how to receive a gift from another. My first reaction is probably to say, “Oh, you shouldn’t have!” I say that sometimes only to be polite when I really don’t like or want that particular gift. Or I say those words because, well, in this situation that’s what people expect you to say in kindness for their thoughtfulness.

Upon receiving an unexpected gift, sometimes I respond by saying, “No, I can’t accept that!” To which the giver responds, “I insist!” And after a little more back-and-forth of this dialogue, it is only then that I reluctantly accept. There is almost this unwritten rule that I can’t accept a gift until the giver persists, and insists, until I relent and finally take it.

When I’m presented with a gift, I feel a compulsion (most times) to give that person a gift in return. I feel that somehow I must repay that person, not necessarily to recognize their kindness to me, but to make me feel better by not accepting “charity” from another.

As the years have gone by, I think I’m getting better at graciously receiving a gift. I no longer argue with the person about my seeming unworthiness. I try to silence any thoughts of responding with my own gift. I simply say, “Thank you!”

As we are privileged to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, that response might be the best we can give to our gracious Lord: “Thank you!” This celebration reminds us that despite our sinfulness, our Saviour loved us enough to pay the price demanded by a just God for our sin. Jesus did just that by suffering and dying as the sinless One in our place, and then rising victorious from the dead. As a result of His love for us, our gracious God declares us “not guilty” of any transgressions against Him.

In a sermon on October 6, 1537 on John 1:17, Luther wrote: “Grace consists in this, that God is merciful to us, shows Himself gracious for the sake of the Lord Christ, forgives all sins, and will not impute them unto us for eternal death. This is grace: the forgiveness of sins for the sake of the Lord Christ, the covering up of all sins.”

This eternal salvation is a gift for which I did not ask. It is a gift I could neither earn nor deserve. I have nothing to offer in return for His gift to me. It is grace, pure and simple—sola gratia, grace alone—God’s undeserved love shown to me and all sinners. This gift was almost lost during the time of Martin Luther and the Reformers. But thanks to our gracious God, He made sure that His message of love and salvation—His perfect Gift in the person of Jesus—would sound forth loud and clear to people like you and me who desperately need to hear it.

Our response to God for His amazing love to us can be nothing less than a simple, yet heart-felt: “Thank You!”

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Rev. Thomas Prachar is President of the Central District of Lutheran Church–Canada.