Redeemer Lutherhan Church

Praising God, serving neighbors with Christ at the center!


Thanks for Nothing

| November 21, 2019


Luke 21:1-4, Mark 12:41-44

November 22, 2018

“Thanks for Nothing”

21:1 And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, 2 and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites.[a] 3 So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; 4 for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings [b]for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”

What do we do on Thanksgiving?

  • Have community meals!
  • Collect and give food away, Turkeys!
  • Serve a homeless shelter!
  • Decorate the alter with food. Did that last Sunday!
  • I am thankful notes. We did that last year I think.
  • Worship, sing, and commune.
  • We retell history, pilgrims, Indians, a forest feast in the
  • new colony.
  • We talk about the history of the day as a National Holiday
  • We talk about the good things of life.
  • Thanksgiving is set apart to thank God for his provision and
  • providence. We thank God for what we’ve got…
  • We remember all the blessings of life that we are thankful
  • for.

What are they for you?

Then, Our thanks is directed at God our Father, His Son and the Holy Spirit. Can I get an Amen! A lot of preachers use ThanksGiving to teach about gratitude, to be more mindful of thanks & to do it more often.

A normal Thanksgiving service has the reading of the Ten Lepers. We did that. Then preachers use this text to make people feel guilty for not being thankful enough. Why don’t we thank the Lord properly like the one Samaritan? We’re too much like the nine that didn’t come back and give thanks. After all Jesus has healed us of our spiritual leprosy, right? That is usually the Law part of the sermon, right?

We are like the nine and we need to be more like the one Samaritan, right? We get that!

Be more like him, after all we have been healed physically, yet this healing is now, but not yet. It is to be fully realized after we die or when Jesus returns. Even more, we should be thankful for our spiritual healing and the eternal life that has already begun for us in the waters of baptism. Granted, this eternal life that we now have is a bit stained on this side of eternity. Still, eternal life begins now. All this is for the sake of Jesus Christ and His death on the cross. This is the Gospel!

The good Lutheran preacher will tell you that you are forgiven. We are forgiven for the sake of Jesus + That’s the Gospel, truth!

The Gospel continues, by God’s Spirit, through God’s Word, in faith, we can be thankful. Yeah!

Then what do we do?

We celebrate with gluttony.

With bellies full, we want more with Black Friday cravings that start on Thursday. And the good preacher will make you feel guilty about that too. Happy Thanksgiving!

My devotion tonight is titled, “Thanks for Nothing.” Thanks for Nothing!” Normally, when we speak these words, they are a response of dissatisfaction. We have been let down. Our expectations have not been met. We are disappointed.

This year I wanted to take a different path towards ThanksGiving. I offer you the opportunity to join me on this journey. I have to tell you, you might find, as I have, that this path will lead to darkness. That is, if we are honest with ourselves. Our journey will lead to a greater light too. I invite you to join me on a trip I have already started as I contemplated Thanks Giving. I invite you to join me tonight, tomorrow, and the days ahead.

Normally we thank God for His providence and blessings. This is good. But what about the times God wasn’t there, did not provide, and all we had was Nothing?

Where did God fail you this year? I know, I know, God never fails us. That is not always what we think or feel, is it? Sometimes our unspoken prayer to God is, Thanks for Nothing!

A loud example of this is, “My home has burned to the ground, my community is gone, my family and friends are missing or dead. God, Thanks for Nothing.”

My son survived the Las Vegas shooting, only to be shot at another mass shooting. What are the odds of that? God, Thanks for Nothing! Someone I love was sick. I prayed for healing, they didn’t get better. God, thanks for Nothing!

I have been completely abandoned, left alone, left for dead. God, Thanks for Nothing!

It was a little thing, but should have been easy for you to provide. I prayed and prayed. You love me God, right? But no, you couldn’t even do that for me. Did you even hear my prayer? Are you really there? God, Thanks for Nothing!

Have you screamed at God this year? I am not proud of it but I have. Have you worn the knees of your pants through because prayer that went unanswered? I am not proud of it but I have.

Have you wondered where God is or what He is doing, if anything? I am not proud of it, but I have.

This is the darkness I told you about. I want to remember the times I am faithful, not the times I am faithless. How about you?

What did I discover? It is at the point of nothingness I find the blind spot of faith. What is a blind spot? There are several definitions but here are two. It is an area where a person’s view is obstructed. It is an area in which a person lacks understanding or impartiality.

The point of nothingness is my blind spot of faith. It is easy to be faithful when I see God’s provision. My challenge is have faith when God and His work appear to be hidden. I can’t see Him or what He is doing.

This is the beauty of the story of the Widow’s mites. Those two mites, that was all she had. She gave it all leaving her with nothing. She chose the nothing. Wow! The Greek can be rendered. She gave her life, her bios. With nothing, having nothing, she worships and gives thanks.

God is good, all the time, even when we are left with nothing. I think even more so. It is at times of nothingness where faith in God is revealed to be the golden treasure that it really is. When you have nothing, all you have is God. This is truly a great blessing to be thankful for. Indeed! God, thank you for the times of nothing when all I had was you!

The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord!

God, Thanks for Nothing!

Thanks for nothing, even the times when I felt you were nowhere in sight, when I didn’t feel your healing hand, your loving heart. Thanks for the nothing when my prayers seemed to rise up to deaf ears, prayers unanswered, at least in the ways I’d hoped.

Thanks for the nothing when I felt so alone and abandoned.

In that nothing all I had left was my two mites of faith. All I could do was trust you. All I had was nothing, but you! With nothing you lifted my eyes to you alone.

I am rich with family and friends. I have a place to live, food to eat and a family that loves me. I am blessed to live in this country and freely worship my Lord and God. I am grateful for all of these. Most of all, in my poverty I am richest of all. Dear Lord, Thanks For the times I had Nothing!

Thanks for nothing….being brought to the nothing-ness of my knees, empty folded hands and broken hearted before You.

Thanks for the Nothing-ness of my high crimes and misdemeanor sins. They have been rendered to nothing through Christ’s cross. They have been buried in His tomb.

Thanks for the Nothing-ness of my righteousness. I have none, but am righteous through your Son Jesus!

Thank you Jesus for nothing… the nothing that was found in your empty tomb, and eventually mine.

Dear Lord, on this Thanks Giving, Thanks, For Nothing and the times when all I had was you! Amen!