November 2019 – Thoughts On Gratitude And Grace

November is the time of year where we reflect upon those

things for which we are grateful. It begins with the celebration

of All Saints, a day when we celebrate and express our gratitude

for all the faithful saints who have come before us, those who

dwell among us, and those who will follow. In particular,

we remember and give thanks for those members of

our congregation, our family and friends who have died in the

faith during this past year. We offer this prayer:

Almighty God, you have knit your people together in one communion in the mystical body of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Grant us grace to follow your blessed saints in lives of faith and commitment, and to know the inexpressible joys you have prepared for those who love you…                                                                                                                                              [ELW, p. 59]

Towards the end of November, we celebrate Thanksgiving. On that day, we give thanks for the abundant of blessings our Creator God has freely given to us. We offer this prayer:

Almighty God our Father, your generous goodness comes to us new every day. By the work of your spirit lead us to acknowledge your goodness, give thanks for your benefits, and serve you in willing obedience…                                                                                                                  [ELW, p. 61]

Author Henry Nouwen offered these words about gratitude as a spiritual discipline:

Gratitude…claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift. In the past I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.                                                         [Institute for Biblical Worship – September 20, 2017]

New Testament scholar Davis Lose offered this observation about choosing to live with gratitude:

Gratitude…becomes easier to choose as we practice it. Gratitude, like faith and hope and love and commitment, are not inborn traits that some have and others don’t, but rather gratitude is more like a muscle that can be strengthened over time. And as you practice giving thanks and more frequently share your gratitude, you not only grow in gratitude but create an example for others.   

More than that, you create a climate in which it is easier to be grateful and encourage those around you to see the blessings all around us.                                              

David Lose then goes on to ask the question,

What if…we asked folks to start practicing their gratitude and develop greater thanksgiving-oriented “muscle memory” by responding for the rest of this month to the question, “How are you,” with the simple but powerful reply, “I’m grateful.” There’s more we could do, of course…But for now, perhaps just the challenge and encouragement to say “I’m grateful” is enough.                                                                         [In the Meantime, post for October 3, 2016]

Who wants to give this challenge a try? Who will join with me, during this month of November, find ways to express our gratitude? It could be just as simple as responding to the question, “How are you?” with the words, “I am grateful?”

With Gratitude,

Pastor Dennis Kelly

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