When the church staff convenes each Tuesday we engage in a discussion about a topic prompted by an article we’ve all read in advance. Because we bring a variety of gifts ministry, the topics are wide ranging: from music to technology, from theology to business management. We muse about how God’s Spirit might call us to think anew about our calling to serve.
Last week, our colleague Anne Haraughty brought activity in lieu of the article. She passed out two small slips of paper to each person at the table. The slips gave prompts such as “say what you are thankful about for the person sitting on your right” or “share what you are most thankful for in this past year.” Each person had different gratitude questions. The mood in the room changed as we each began to ponder our answers. Then the room came to life as we began revealing the appreciation that we share for our colleague’s kind service, the congregation’s faithful deeds, the family traditions that we find rewarding. The whole tenor of our meeting changed. Instead of just reporting our business to each other we began dialouging more deeply about the work and lives we share. Somehow that act of spontaneously claiming our specific gratitude opened each of us up to be more present in the room.
It reminded me of my friend Corey who, a few years back, made a list of 100 things she was grateful for and then invited her family members to each do the same. It isn’t that we need to be forced into gratitude. It is easy this time of year to simply implore each other to be “thankful” but generic thanks can feel vacuous. But when we claim the specific gifts that have enriched our lives, our hearts swell with bounty. So I challenge you in these weeks leading up to the feast of Thanksgiving to say aloud to a friend or write on paper in your journal or list in silence before God what makes your heart brim with joy in this very moment.
Here is a start from me: 1) my 5 year old grandson Jacob who is autistic and growing in his ability to speak and connect with people; 2) our country’s constitution which makes freedom possible; 3) my nephew in the army and the sacrifices his family has made for us all; 4) my clergy and staff colleagues who serve God with compassion and wisdom; 5) all of you who generously give of yourselves so that the love of Christ can be revealed in the world today. I only have 95 to go. Now your turn to get started.