“The research is clear: Those who consciously express gratitude for at least three to five components of their lives every week are simply happier than those who don’t.”
– Joan Chittister quoting Martin E.P. Seligman
By the time you read this someone has already begun menu planning, grocery shopping and maybe even advance cooking for the feast we call Thanksgiving. On this holiday called Thanksgiving, we pause, regardless of our faith practice to say “Thank you” but we also remember that this practice of gratitude is an admirable and desirable way of life, not just a once-a-year check the box obligation. Psychologists have discovered that practicing gratitude improves our own emotional well-being, our social life, our personality, our career benefits and our physical health. (The Monastic Heart p. 125)
Today I am grateful for the five members of our church who have worked for over 5 years on an almost daily basis to prepare our church building for the Next 100 years of ministry: Dave Forsee, Amy Guthrey, Lesley Holt, Dan Jensen, Mary McClure. My heart brims with gratitude for their dedicated service and wise leadership.
Each night when I leave the church building, I leave knowing that we didn’t finish all that God had us to do for that day. The long list of ways we might reach out and care for a world hungry for God’s love remains. But I always leave knowing that our staff poured their hearts and souls into caring for this congregation that day. Matt Thompson planning the music for worship, Dan Warneke making videos, Lindsay Howes and Rachel Wymore planning children’s Sunday School and special events, Joe Walker praying with a member at the operating room at 5am, Bryce Bowers creating new small groups, Mike Graves writing a sermon, Corey Scott sharing hospitality with guests, Shannon Gammon creating a Thanksgiving card with recipes! All of this while the jackhammering goes on in the background. I am deeply grateful for their companionship on this journey called faith.
And this week in particular, I’m still humming with joy over last week’s joint service with our sister congregation, Swope Parkway United Christian Church. Thank you to Dr. Rodney Williams who preached a challenging message. I even saw some of you sway a bit as we sang and clapped! It’s amazing what God still has to teach us. I’m so very thankful for Swope and for the opportunity we have been given by God to create a world with more racial reconciliation.
And of course, I’m grateful to my husband, who at the end of every day, will listen to my hopes and dreams, my frustrations and worries about the church. I love this place and I want us to be the church God calls us to be. Dave is my partner in that dream.
As I pull up to the table on Thanksgiving with my family, I’ll think of you. I will say thank you to God for a congregation full of people who are generous and bold, creative and courageous, tender and kind, compassionate and eager to serve. In you, I see God’s goodness and grace.