Happy National Gratitude Month, Everyone!
How fitting is it that, this November, we are doubly encouraged to be grateful. It is “way” cool, that not only will we celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of this month, but that thirty days are now set aside for us to daily practice being grateful. “National Gratitude Month” is a suitable opportunity for us to initiate a spiritual lifestyle of intentionally “sowing thankfulness”.
This Thanksgiving, as is customary, the question will be asked, “Are you thankful?” Well, of course, yes! Who isn’t thankful feasting at a sumptuous banquet of delicious food? It isn’t hard to see God’s graciousness when sitting down to a feast. Conversely, let me be clear; I am not suggesting that we give up our Thanksgiving traditions. Neither am I implying that we feel guilty for enjoying our Thanksgiving meal. Enjoy, as always, God’s blessings.
Even so, the real question is, “are we thankful whether we sit down to great abundance, or whether we sit down to very little”? If we routinely give thanks only for great blessings, then we train ourselves to not give thanks when there is scarcity. In fact, we tend to learn to grumble and complain in the face of any shortage. For this reason, I am stirred by the song,”Great is Thy Faithfulness!” which is taken directly from a reading of the Book of Lamentations 3:22-23…
22 … because of God’s loving kindnesses …we are not consumed; God’s mercies never cease. 23 They are new every morning; great is God’s faithfulness.
Still, there will always be those who associate good fortune with God’s favor and misfortune as a sign of God’s rejection. That’s why, it is most important for us to understand that gratitude is more than simply saying “thank you.” Gratitude can shift us from focusing only on the negative to appreciating what is good in our lives. Practicing daily gratitude gives us a deeper connection to ourselves, the world around us and to our God. The blessing in this is that everything in our lives improves when we are grateful.
If we all practice daily gratitude, we can change ourselves and the world for the better. Everyone would be abundantly happier. Love would grow and hate would diminish. The world then might know true peace. And so, in our gratitude and beginning of a dailypractice, not of just thanksgiving, instead, let us cultivate a mind to intentionally “sow thankfulness”.
Still more, keeping in mind there is ALWAYS something positive for which to be thankful, let us do as an old church hymn suggests…
“Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!”
In the same way, we minimally give thanks for: being alive in America and relatively safe from terrorism and threats of war; the uniqueness, in which we are created in our sexual orientation, gender identity and expression; good times past; the right of same-gender couples to marry in all fifty states; and our collective hope for the future. And for those of us who gather this month to celebrate the “Resilience of the Transgender Community” as well as memorializing those violently taken from us too soon at various “Transgender Day of Remembrances”. In this, we give thanks in advance that violence and hatred will be no more. Most significantly, we are “sow thankful” for all of it.
Gratefully Yours …. Reverend Gale Jones, Executive Pastor