Gratitude is a posture, an attitude, a perspective and way of life. Gratitude is choosing how and where to focus our attention. Everyone has difficulty, and everyone can find beauty and joy. This is not to say that all beauty and joy or all experiences of suffering are equal. Nor can I say I understand your suffering and hardship simply because I’ve experienced my own. We can each attend to the ways that the world, God’s world, demonstrates divine love and provision. And we can name and acknowledge the real ways that the brokenness, lack and chaos in the world and in the human family causes harm, committing ourselves to strive for justice and righteousness.
We can have gratitude even in the midst of loss. When we see people who live in extreme poverty sing and dance with joy, we are reminded of these truths. When we encounter families who lose loved ones to savage illness or violence and yet they are able to be generous with organ donation or turn their loss into a life mission and ministry, we see beauty transcending sorrow. Paul reminds us to focus our attention on that which is good and praiseworthy – to actively and consciously chose.
One of the reasons we need community, specifically Christian Community, is so that we have people who will remind us of these truths when the circumstances of our lives threaten to overwhelm us.
Below is a journal page for you to reflect upon the place of gratitude in your own life and how you can develop a more focused and consistent spirit of THANKS-LIVING.
Please share with us your responses and what you are learning / committing to grow your gratitude.
It’s election day eve. Every US citizen age 18 or older has the right, the privilege, and I believe the duty to be informed and to exercise their freedom to vote. In this way we help to secure the future for ourselves and coming generations, and we honor the legacy of those who have come before us. This is one way we show our patriotism, our love of our home.
Patriotism can be a good and honorable, if for people of faith it is secondary and submitted to our faith commitments. It is right and good that we love the place we live, the place that has shaped and provided for us. The United States is a great country with wonderful ideals toward which we yearn but which we have never fulfilled. We are at our best when we care for the vulnerable among us, those who for whatever reason cannot fully care for themselves.
Christianity is inconsistent with nationalism. We are called not only to love our neighbor who is like us, but the stranger who is different, and even the enemy at the gate. Followers of Jesus are to welcome the foreigner. Jesus explicitly challenged the power of the Roman Empire, as well as the power of the Jewish political and religious establishment of his day.
Jesus said to love our neighbors as ourselves, so when we enter the ballot box and vote for love, vote for blessing our neighbors, vote for caring for the least and the lost at least as much as we do ourselves, then we are serving the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
When our vote works to privilege some while excluding others, to limit possibility and potential, then we are working for Human Empires and against the Reign of God. And we are working against our own long-term self-interest. Communities and nations are weaker when we seek our own short-term self-interest above the common good.
The wisdom, word, light and love of God call us, and the Holy Spirit compels us, to use all the opportunities and resources at our disposal to build the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. Our vote is most certainly one of those opportunities. May God grant us wisdom. May God forgive us when we are greedy for gain and motivated by fear. May God give us courage. May God bless us to be a blessing, now and always.