From the Bible:
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus giving thanks to God through him.”
– Colossians 3: 17
This morning’s message is both wonderfully simple and incredibly challenging.
Here it is.
Say Thank You.
Live doing your best to hold gratitude as close to the center of your life as you can.
Even if you did not believe it at the time, your Mom and Dad were right.
Please and Thank you are magical words.
They change the dynamic.
They have the ability to turn some complicated situations and circumstances upside down.
They pull people (even you) back towards what is important.
And, for a moment at least, when we say those words a space opens in our hearts and minds enabling us to see others for who they really are.
Last weekend I had the privilege of officiating at the wedding of Laura Prichard and Fred Stark. There are some parts of wedding ceremonies that are always similar – vows spoken, rings exchanged, blessings offered. But with each wedding I do, I take a couple of minutes and share a brief reflection with the couple about their getting married. I often remind couples to say I love you to each other. Not just when they feel very much in love, but also when life is not going according to the happily ever after of fairy tales. And, I remind couples to be extravagant, not about things, but with the time they have to give and share with each other. And this… In a culture where it sometimes feels like it is easier to complain and to wish for and to find fault, I remind couples to say thank you to each other for those everyday kindnesses and everyday moments which, too often, go unnoticed and unnamed, but which grace our lives each and every day.
It is all wonderfully simple.
Say thank you.
Live with gratitude.
And so doing my best to practice what I preach…
All mornings are mornings to say Thank you.
But, that is especially true this morning for many reasons.
In a moment I will give you an opportunity to add to my list, but let me begin with this reminder with which we began our service this morning. Today is a day that was not promised to you, but which is so full of promise. Or, to say the same thing in a different way these words by the poet Mary Oliver: “What are you going to do with your one wild and precious life?” To which I would add one word…today. So, both put together it might go something like this:
“With today not being promised to you, what are you going to do with your one wild and precious life…today.”
And, added to that is this…
Following worship we host a reception for Kevin Tejada who heads off to Bates College in a couple weeks. A few years ago, who would have thought something like this would be possible? Yet, it turned out to be not only a dream, but a dream come true. The list of Thank yous to be said around all this is more than we can imagine or name, but we say Thank you never the less.
And, thank you for this community of faith.
This particular and unique gathering of people who are practice generosity in so many ways – time, talent, resources. And, who do their best to look inward not just inward, towards those who you know, but outward as well.
Wonderfully simple and at the heart of who we are as people of faith, but also, I think, incredibly challenging.
And, here is where the wisdom of the Bible intersects our conversation this morning. Most of the time our sense of gratitude is related to things.
The love and support of family and friends.
Shelter. Health. The opportunities before us.
What we have and who we have.
But the wisdom of the Bible seems to push us towards something a bit deeper and a bit more complicated.
Whatever you do, it says…do it with gratitude.
Whatever you say, say it with gratitude.
Whatever the circumstance…gratitude.
Not that you are to be glad about the God awful circumstances in which we and others sometimes find ourselves, or to in any way excuse the dehumanizing and destructive circumstances in which cripple people’s lives, but in all those moments and circumstances how do we hold onto to a sense of gratitude and not allow bitterness or resentment or anger or violence to become the motivating factors for who we are and what we say and how we act.
That, I think, is the challenge. Is it not?
So that is the message for this morning and maybe, too, for your tomorrow. Wonderfully simple and incredibly challenging.
Say thank you.