Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. – Psalm 100:4-5
We’ve entered the autumn season, and a month where we celebrate Thanksgiving.
A week from today we’ll be taking time to be with the ones we love. Dishing up the turkey or some kind of awesome, meaningful, celebratory meal, reminding ourselves and each other of those things we are thankful for. One popular way to do that in our culture is to have everyone at the table share at least one thing they are thankful for. It’s often a beautiful, meaningful tradition.
Two of the outcomes of focusing on gratitude, appreciation and celebration are to remind us of the things we are thankful for as well as keep us from not taking anything for granted. No matter how hard things may seem, we continue to have so much in our lives to be thankful for.
In The Salvation Army, we offer our thanks and praise to God; the Sustainer and Giver of all life. We know that everything we have, including every breath we take, is a gift from God.
We also know that life has been unfair to a lot of people, many of whom we meet on a daily basis at our ministry units. The stories of pain, abuse and neglect that we hear every single day are sometimes overwhelming.
These encounters are filled with tension when we consider our October missional themes.
On the one hand we are so grateful for the many things we have to be thankful for. And on the other hand, we wonder why so many men and women who live in shelters or on the street seemingly have so little.
It’s a tension I really have no answers for and suspect I’ll live with for the rest of my life.
But I also know that I have learned more about gratitude through my friends on the street than I have through anyone else.
The genuine appreciation for the simple things in life has been so apparent and contagious. Gratitude for a gentle smile, a warm meal, a bed to sleep in, someone to talk to, the list goes on, have all taught me to never take anything for granted.
My teachers of gratitude and appreciation for the little things in life have been the very people who look on the surface as though they have nothing to be thankful for at all.
So this October as we focus on gratitude, appreciation and celebration, let’s be aware of what we can learn about these things from the folks who access our services as we continue to strive to be ‘The Hand of God in the Heart of the City’.
God of all blessings, source of all life, giver of all grace:
We thank you for the gift of life: for the breath that sustains life, for the food of this earth that nurtures life, for the love of family and friends without which there would be no life.
We thank you for setting us in communities: for families who nurture our becoming, for friends who love us by choice, for companions at work, who share our burdens and daily tasks, for strangers who welcome us into their midst, for people from other lands who call us to grow in understanding, for children who lighten our moments with delight
We thank you for this day: for life and one more day to love, for opportunity and one more day to work for justice and peace, for neighbours and one more person to love and by whom be loved,
For these, we give you thanks, eternal, loving God,
(adapted from here)