Pastor's Monthly Newsletter Article for November, 2014: In the summer of 1620 Pilgrims traveled across the Atlantic Ocean from England, arriving on this continent late in the fall. Looking out on a new world, there were blessings to celebrate. They were thankful for peace. They were thankful for a land where they could be free from religious oppression. They were thankful for the many opportunities awaiting them.
The winter of 1621 brought much sorrow, though. Not finding a suitable place to settle on land, they spent the winter on the Mayflower where they suffered from scurvy, pneumonia and tuberculosis. By spring, half of those who made the trip had died. Yet amidst the sorrow, they paused to thank God for their blessings.
Gratitude is not a response that arises whenever the balance of good and bad tips towards the good. Gratitude is an ancient spiritual practice. It is an attitude towards life that transcends the circumstances of the moment. More than that: it is an attitude that transforms the way a believer experiences life. To be a faithfully grateful person is to live in a unique manner.
The Apostle wrote, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” [1st Thessalonians 15:16-19] It is God’s will that we be a thankful people. Not only when life is going as we hoped it might, but always.
That is why we pause to give thanks every year. Not just during the years that are better than most, but every year. So with this in mind (during a year when my family has arguably experienced both the good and the bad), I find myself thankful for:
- The love of God, which grounds me in grace and peace.
- God’s call to service, which gives meaning and purpose to my life.
- A family in which I regularly experience love and companionship.
- A congregation that is faithful, generous and compassionate.
- The opportunities our sons have in education, sports and music.
- Volunteers at Saint Peter who week-in and week-out give of themselves in ministry.
- My health (which has had a few blips this year, but is relatively strong).
- The beauty of the Colorado Rockies (the mountains, not the baseball team, although this family does enjoy the team…).
Gratitude is an ancient spiritual practice. The traditions of our country may encourage our gratitude on Thursday each year. But the traditions of our faith encourage us to be a grateful people, giving thanks in all circumstances, and allowing our gratitude to shape our experience of life. I hope you will take some time, this month and every month, to give thanks to God.
Thankfully yours, Pastor Dave