Give Thanks

As I look back on the last several months, there are so many hopes and dreams that have been denied, or at least deferred. And yet, the words of a familiar chorus by Don Moen are echoing through my soul.

Give thanks, with a grateful heart.

Give thanks, to the Holy One.

Give thanks, because he’s given Jesus Christ, his son.

I am reminded of the words of Maya Angelou:

Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.

And so, I stare at an empty page and begin to fill it with all that makes me thankful and begin to pray:

Living God, the source of all that is, the salvation of creation, the strength to live each day:

Thank you for the beauty of the earth, for changing seasons, for clean air and water, for broad prairies, rolling hills, tall mountains, and deep oceans. Thank you for the birds of the air, the animals of the field, and the fish of the sea.

Thank you for the breath in my lungs, the life that courses through my veins. Thank you for a warm bed to sleep in, clothes on my back, food in my belly, and the opportunities to share what I’ve been given with those who have less.

Thank you for Mary, my love, my life partner.

Thank you for Sarah and Daniel and all the ways they are growing into the people you created them to be.

Thank you for the care of extended family and friends and for the opportunity to care for them.

Thank you for the church universal, for its ongoing ministry, and the opportunity to share in your mission in the world.

Thank you for teachers, mentors, and encouragers,

both those living and those who enjoy eternal rest, for the ways their lives have enriched mine and how I have been able to help others because of my teachers, mentors, and encouragers.

Thank you for the congregation at Evangelical and Reformed United Church of Christ, for all the ways we reach across our differences to be the body of Christ, learning and growing as disciples, caring for one another and the community beyond our walls. Thank you for all the ways, with your help, our church changes lives.

Thank you for taking on human flesh in Jesus. For teaching us, in word and action, how to live as your children. Thank you for even though we nailed him to that cross, you raised him from the dead. Thank you for his promise to never leave, nor forsake us. Thank you for no matter how difficult situations may appear, you are there with us, to comfort and to guide.

Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit, your indwelling presence that lifts us when we fall, prays for us when we can’t find the words, and binds us together in community.

To you, O God, be all glory, honor, and praise, today and evermore. Amen.

I could have gone on. (In fact, I did, and then edited much out to fit on this page.) What about you? What are you thankful for today? I encourage you to take out a blank piece of paper and list all that makes you thankful.

When faced with difficult times, allow Paul’s words to the church at Corinth echo through your situation:

Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, 9but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.

(2 Corinthians 12:8-10)

And now, let the weak say, “I am strong,”

Let the poor say, “I am rich,

for what the Lord has done for me.”

Give thanks.