What really matters/ Luke 17:11-19 / Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht / Sunday October 10th 2021 / Thanksgiving Weekend/ Mount Olive Lutheran Church
Text: Philippians 4:6-20; Luke 17
Theme: “What really matters”
Intr – How many times a week you check or think about:
-Your bank account to see if you’ll have money to make it through the month;
-Your Social Media feed to see how other people are happier than you;
-Making the ends meet;
-The numbers of the pandemic to see how things are going from bad to worse;
-The latest political problems or scandals to be angry about politicians;
-Violence, crisis and shortage of things to be scared of the present and the future.
Well, I guess that in some cases I shouldn’t ask how many times “a week”, but “a day”. We have this human tendency of focusing on what’s wrong and bad compared to what’s good and healthy. And we could say perhaps justly, “our world is so filled with bad things, how not to think about it frequently?” Then I’d bring another question: “In the midst of daily life, what is it that really matters?”
We come then to Thanksgiving Sunday and we have to hear Philippians 4, where St. Paul with his annoying joy in these our difficult times says things like:
-Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice
-do not be anxious about anything,
-think about good things (whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise,)
-I can do all things / -And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
“Well pastor, I think it was easier for him to say that, because he lived in those good old times of the Bible, not the challenging times of the 21st Century.” Well, not so fast with that. Besides all the difficulties of the time – I could list: illiteracy rates, diseases, short life expectation, constant wars – there is a cherry to the top of the cake: Paul is writing from a prison. Not an air-conditioned, cable TVed, all sorts of civil rights prison of the 21st century, but a dark, humid, infested prison of the 1st century.
And what was his crime? Confessing his Christian faith. Well, that sounds familiar to our XXI ears, as we see that in many countries there are Christians still being imprisoned and martyrized for their faith, and that even in our country we see culture closing in on our faith, trying to press is to change some of our faith tenets.
Notwithstanding, he insists: Joy, contentment, let anxiousness go. Rejoice in the Lord. Isn’t Paul seeing all the bad things around him? I’m sure he is. I would even dare to say that because he sees so much bad things around him he writes what we heard. As he speaks we understand why:
-“don’t be anxious/worried about anything” – In our spiritual life, God was worried about our condition before we even realized it, and sent Jesus to release us from our anxiousness about protection and care. He is our security.
He doesn’t talk so much about human, daily anxiousness, for it is almost inevitable. He addresses especially anxiousness in the heart, about God and faith.
-Prayer –When we pray, we are saying that we trust unconditionally in God’s will, which is always precise, perfect and just.
-Peace – Then we have peace. Not absence of wars or problems, but peace that invades our heart and soothes our soul.
Thanksgiving Day is a time to remember what goes on every day: we can choose to focus on everything that tears our hope and strength apart. Or we can prioritize what binds and weaves everything together. Jesus and His Cross. Jesus and his forgiveness. Jesus and His peace.
Here’s one of the biggest challenges for our faith and thankfulness: looking around and seeing that not everybody shares the same faith, they don’t give thanks or even recognize God, and still they have the sun rising for them too. Sometimes a non Christian person seems to fare even better than us in life, and we wonder what is going on.
In the Gospel we see an answer. Jesus heals ten, and only one comes back. God provides for all. The difference lies in who are the ones who acknowledge where the good comes from.
Thanksgiving can only come from faith. And faith can only come from God. Faith is the difference, and if you look around and see no different on being or not a Christian for daily things, think about eternal things. Faith is the difference. Christ is the difference. Plus, as Christians, we don’t focus on what we have, but what we are.
When we are fed so much with the bad things around us we might start wonder if we are happy after all, or when that might happen. Now, complete this sentence: “I will be happy when.........” What is it that fills the blank? Having the items of the list I mentioned at the beginning being solved? Perhaps when I get a better job, make more money; when there’s a change in the government, or when I meet the love of my life. When my kids get to college and have a profession?
But... what if that never happens? Would that means then that you will never be happy?
Of course not. Happiness in Christian life doesn’t depend on things out there, but on things “up there” that com “in here”, in our hearts This is what Paul talks about in “I can do all things”. He is talking about contentment in every circumstance in Him who strengthens me”. That’s the difference, Jesus. Faith.
“And the peace of God will guard your heart”. Is there any event, government, crisis or creditor that can take this peace from you? Short answer: no.
A thanksgiving, grateful list might include, how many times a week you,
-Say “I love you” or “I like you” to important people in you life and how often you thank God for them;
-Call a friend to visit;
-Think about what could you do to help a person in need;
-Thank God for being with you every single moment of your life
-Thank God also for the difficulties in life and the things He is teaching you;
-Thank God for deliverance for situations you weren’t even aware you were in danger;
-Thank God for what you already have;
-Thank God for what you already are.
The list can go on. But examples like these help us to put in practice what Paul says, “fill up your minds with good things”. Because our heart is already filled up with the most precious thing – Faith in Jesus, His forgiveness and Peace. We are directed to fill up our minds with the things that really matter.
Cc – A person came to his pastor during a financial collapse.
-Pastor, I lost everything!
After a brief moment, the Pastor said,
-Oh, I'm sorry to hear you lost your faith and salvation.
-No, Pastor, I haven’t lost neither faith nor salvation.
Again the pastor said:
-Oh, I see. I'm sad to hear then that you lost God's presence in your life.
-Neither that, pastor, that's not what I said. I haven't lost God’s presence in my life.
-Oh, right. Well, sorry then for the fact that you lost your character.
- Pastor, I think you’re not listening to me. I haven't lost my character and principles!
The pastor then said:
- Well, if you haven't lost your faith and salvation, the presence of God, and your character then, my dear friend, you still have what really matters.
Thanksgiving. A Day to remember to thank God every day for what really matters.
 Ah, and don’t forget that having you mind filled up with the good things from good will also ...attract bad things. Yes, for when we are faithful to the principles and teachings of God’s word no matter what, there will be moments when we will be challenged for it. That’s when we see even more how precious it is that God’s peace is filling our hearts. And, as Paul says, “my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus”