Dear Church Family,
November is the month of Thanksgiving, so I thought it appropriate to use this pastor's letter to talk about gratitude. Thomas Merton, one of the great Christian spiritual thinkers of the last century, said, "Gratitude takes nothing for granted. It is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder, and to praise of the goodness of God."
Gratitude takes nothing for granted. It is aware of each favor, each gift – both big and small. It also recognizes the giver – the couple in the church who shows their love by giving you and your spouse a night out of dinner and a movie; the friend who remembers to call you on your birthday; the person who gives you a compliment; the spouse who goes out of their way to lift you up when you're feeling down.
Perhaps you've felt the gratitude that comes from appreciating that you are surrounded by many gifts. But perhaps not. Not much in our society stimulates us to such appreciation. Instead of suggesting that we give thanks, the world encourages us to be greedy for more gifts. If we listen to the voices of our culture, we won't feel much gratitude. Instead we'll start thinking that we have practically nothing and need to get more . . . and more.
It's that attitude that makes us hostile – that leads us to guard what we have from others. We are afraid to share our personal resources because much of what we hear says that we don't have enough. It looks past what we have to what we do not have and urges us to grab for more.
Greed grabs. Gratitude receives. That's why gratitude often seems like a radical reaction to life. Gratitude takes nothing for granted. When you are truly grateful, you recognize not only the diner someone prepared as a gift, but also become aware of the person who prepared it. You are aware of the love involved, and you get a glimpse at the wonder of friends and family.
In these moments of receiving, I realize that I am a part of something much larger than myself and my surroundings. I find that I am surrounded by God's indescribable generosity. I awaken to the fact that life itself is a gift, and in Jesus Christ it is a gift that will be renewed for all eternity.
It is especially during times of worship that gratitude goes deep. Whether together with the people of God on Sunday mornings or in my personal daily times of worship through Scripture and prayer, I am aware that I belong to God – and, I am grateful!
Yours in Christ,