It's November. In November people's thoughts tend to turn toward gratitude. We are, after all, about to indulge in America's annual Thanksgiving feast. This year I think I will do something really different. I will try to just enjoy the holiday instead of feeling compelled to explain about the genocidal nature of the first such officially declared thanksgiving feast and all the other Grinch-ish info that people don't really want to hear. I suspect that my friends and parishioners will be grateful. They probably feel they have heard it enough over the 20+ years of my marriage to a Navajo. :-)
One of my Facebook friends is asking all her friends to post something on her page that they are grateful for every single day. That's pretty cool. Many 12 Step meetings this month will focus on gratitude as the discussion topic.
I'm going to use Thanksgiving Sunday as opportunity to prepare a stewardship sermon while everyone's focus is on gratitude. I know. Pastors generally hate to preach on stewardship. Since I am not a volunteer pastor, it feels a bit self-serving to ask people for generous contributions to my salary. I know there's all that other stuff, the stuff that makes it possible for our church to serve the community. But still, it always does feel just a bit selfish, but ...
The thing is, I learned a long time ago that Gratitude is a verb - an action word. If I am grateful for the blessings in my life then I need to say Thank You in a concrete manner. Simply saying, "I'm thankful for rainbows" is not a true expression of gratitude. Showing my gratitude by sharing the beauty of a rainbow with someone else, on the other hand, shows my gratitude because that action brings joy into their day. It's not enough to say "I'm grateful we live in a beautiful world." A true act of gratitude for the beauty of the earth could take the form of recycling or saving water or planting a tree or whatever your choice might be.
Therefore, if I am grateful for the blessings I have received because of the things I have learned as a Christian then it is incumbent upon me to return those blessings in a tangible manner. If the church gave me safe shelter from a harsh world, even in the mere fact of welcoming me into the arms of the congregation on Sunday morning then I am going to want to express my gratitude by making sure the church is there to help someone else.
Likewise, if the lessons I have taken from the readings and messages and hymns have had a positive influence on my life; if I have learned how to be a better person by trying to live according to the example set for me by Jesus and all the saints of the church who have come before, then it is important that I share that Good News so that others can enjoy the same kind of blessings that I have received.
So this Sunday I will expand on Paul's expression of thanks to the church in Ephesus by preaching on faithful stewardship and generous giving as an inevitable expression of true gratitude for the blessings we daily receive. And my post today on my friend's Facebook page will be, "I am grateful that it is my job to teach others how to live in active gratitude for all the blessings we receive."