What does it mean to send a “thank-you note” to God?

Monday, October 21, 2013

A thank-you sermon by Nadia Bolz Weber
On her Sarcastic Lutheran blog at the Patheos website, Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz Weber tells of preparing a sermon on the story of Jesus’ healing of ten men afflicted with leprosy (Luke 17-11-19).  Jesus had then instructed them to go to the priest so they could be examined and pronounced ceremonially clean according to Jewish law. But one of the men turned around and came back to thank Jesus and praise God. Jesus commended him for his expression of gratitude and then asked where the other nine men were.  As she worked on her sermon, Pastor Weber began an intellectual exercise about what it means to praise God.  She writes, “I wrote page upon page this week about what praise is and what it is not.  How praising God isn’t just stroking God’s ego, sycophantically telling God how awesome God is — as though God has low self-esteem and created us for just this purpose. How thankfulness is not an obligation like the thank-you note to Grandma was —but is an act of freedom that doubles the joy of what was received.” And then it hit her. “I mean, seriously, I had pages and pages of exposition on praise and thanksgiving. And not a single word of actual praise and thanksgiving, and that felt telling to me somehow.”  Read about what she decided to do for her sermon. Then think about whether you have ever considered praising and thanking God in this way—for both ordinary and extraordinary things of every kind —and perhaps taking a cue from various lines of Scripture as Nadia Bolz Weber did.  Maybe we should think about actually writing out our thoughts in a thank-you note to God, naming specifics as she did here.

Letha Dawson Scanzoni
Letha Dawson Scanzoni (1935-2024) was an independent scholar, writer, and editor, and the author or coauthor of nine books. In 1978, she and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott wrote Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, one of the earliest books urging evangelical Christians to rethink their views on homosexuality (updated edition, 1994, HarperOne). More recently, Letha coauthored (with social psychologist David G. Myers) What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage (HarperOne, 2005 and 2006). Another of Letha’s most well-known books is All We’re Meant to Be: Biblical Feminism for Today, coauthored with Nancy A. Hardesty (Word Books, 1974; revised edition, Abingdon, 1986; updated and expanded edition, Eerdmans, 1992). Letha served as editor of Christian Feminism Today in both its former print edition (EEWC Update) and its website for 19 years until her retirement in December 2013.