Sunday, November 20, 2011

Giving Thanks: Nurturing Gratitude

We enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast at church today with about forty others. It was a great meal, and wonderful to be together for this celebration. There is something significant about sharing these times with others.

Pastor Joel spoke about gratitude during the sermon today, starting with this brief portion in one of Paul's letters:

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

The "always" and "continually" and "in all circumstances" caught my attention today. These remind me that gratitude isn't something that just happens to us, like eye color or weather. It is a an attitude and an action, a character trait developed through nurture.

I remember some years back when I was going through a rough patch. I taught through the week and then led children's ministries on Sundays. It was a stressful time in general, made more difficult by physical weariness. I began to set aside time after church on Sunday evenings to talk with God about the day. Frustrations were certainly a part of it. Eventually, though, I found my way to recognizing and acknowledging the good parts, too. Those quiet Sunday evenings, especially through those difficult months, began to shape my character, my outlook, and my leadership in good ways.

That experience came to mind again this morning, and as I remember the influence it had, I am considering how I might more intentionally nurture gratitude within my soul during the upcoming year, and not just the upcoming week.

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