In the 51st Psalm the psalmist writes, “O Lord, open my lips and my mouth with declare your praise.”
Martin Luther commented on this text: “By asking the Lord to open his lips, David showed how difficult it is to offer thanks to God.Talking about the Lord and thanking him publicly require an extreme amount of courage and strength, because the devil is constantly trying to stop us from doing this.Many things keep our lips shut: the fear of danger, the hope of gaining something, or even the advice of friends.”
Sad thing is he’s right. Most of our moms taught us to say thanks, but when it comes to thanking God we balk with fear. We need to summon up our courage. We are afraid we might look religious. We need to remember that thanks are words between friends. We fear being teased for taking time for God. We best remember that God has given us the time to take in the first place.
What if it’s actually the reverse that works. What if we practice thanking God in the quiet of our bedtime prayers – then we give thanks to God in public – then we invite people to pray with us – and we thank God for our new circle of praying friends. Who knows, all that thanking of God could lead to thanking others, connecting us with others, building community.
I recently thanked a friend for being willing to help me out, even though the whole project fell apart and my friend took the heat for the crash. He texted me a thanks for my thanks. It had been an awkward time and he was happy I just said thank you. Before the day was out he called and thanked me again. I’m pretty sure we’re better friends. Thanks be to God.
I think I’ll do some more thanking. And the sentence I will use might be a bit risky: “I thank God for you.” Those who I name will learn three things quickly: I believe in a God of providence; I see them as a gift given to me; and I know it was God who gave them to me. Could lead to more community.
It’s Thanksgiving. Do the little exercise of the season. Ask everyone at the table to name what they are thankful for, out loud, with courage. As a group thank God for the gifts with the courage to admit God lives at you place. See if the community is strengthened. See if your bonds are stronger. Then thank God for that.
So spouse, kids, children in law, grandkids, I thank God for you. So coworkers in the Gospel, my synod staff, bishop friends, pastors of our synod, I thank God for you. So store clerk, woman at the bank counter, chiropractor and doctor, all you good people, I thank God for you. You are God’s gifts in my life.