An Attitude of Gratitude

Dear Friends,
Some thoughts on this Thanksgiving Eve, 2018.
The Apostle Paul, shared these words with his beloved Philippian congregation: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” What I like about about these familiar words of Paul’s is that he invites us to rejoice – another way, I think, of saying “give thanks” – always – when things are going well and not so well, when life seems rich and blessings abundant, and when they seem scarce. Paul continues, saying, “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:4,6).
His words remind us that gratitude is as much an attitude as it is an emotion. Gratitude, that is, can arise from a determined commitment to see the blessings of this life. An attitude of gratitude happens by way of noticing and focusing on what is good in our families, in our communities, and in our world. An attitude of gratitude positively changes the way we see the world around us.
This TED Talk by Tania Luna gives a powerful example of this perspective.
Forced to flee her native Ukraine after Chernobyl, Tania and her family were so poor that anything good that came her way seemed a great blessing. Finding a penny made her feel like a millionaire, and a homeless shelter seemed to her and her family like a grand hotel. As Tania, now much better off than she could have ever dreamed, reminds us, a sense of blessing and gratitude have little to do with external circumstances but everything to do with attitude and perspective.
It’s a moving and brief (under 6 minutes) Talk, and I highly recommend watching it – alone, with your spouse, or with your family – at some point over this Thanksgiving holiday, as it helps us reclaim a sense of the wonder of all the blessings that adorn our lives and yet are so easy to take for granted, even miss altogether. Tania reminds us to not take our blessings, small and large, for granted, but rather to notice and give thanks for them.
I am glad that we set aside a particular day each year on which to give thanks for our many blessings as a nation and as individuals. However, I sometimes wonder whether we may unintentionally come to see gratitude as an occasional or special activity rather than a regular and vital part of our life together. It doesn’t have to be that way, of course. We can experience our Thanksgiving holiday as an annual call to regularly adopt an attitude of gratitude and allow the many small blessings of the everyday and the ordinary remind us of just how extraordinary blessed we are.
Perhaps then we, like Tania, like Jesus, and like the Apostle Paul, might truly find it possible to rejoice and give thanks – always – and to remind others to do the same.
If you’re looking for a place to worship and give thanks to God on this Thanksgiving Eve – please join us at First United Methodist in Lindstrom at 7:00 p.m. Stay for an assortment of sweet breads and coffee following worship.
Blessed Thanksgiving!
Pastor Dale