Thanksgiving helps us remember what we’re thankful for (both great and small), then extend that gratitude to God and to others. Perhaps, like me, you find yourself thankful for more things each year. This year I’m thankful to gather with family once again over a meal. It’s been three years. This year I’m thankful to find a turkey on sale! This year I’m thankful that our matriarch, my aunt, will be celebrating 90 years of faithful living. And this year I’m thankful that she will celebrate Thanksgiving with her first great-grandbaby! I am truly thankful.
Most of all I’m thankful for Jesus and His grace in my life. The more we understand who Jesus is and who we are in Him, and the more we appreciate the relationships He gives us through family and friends, the more we will be inclined to practice what the famous British Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon refers to in the following quote as thanks-living:
“I think there is a better thing than thanksgiving: thanks-living. How is this to be done? By a general cheerfulness of manner, by an obedience to the command of Him by whose mercy we live, by a perpetual, constant delighting of ourselves in the Lord, and by a submission of our desires to His will.”
Thanks-living, which flows from “an attitude of gratitude,” is the result of God’s grace. It is not a day or a season, but a way of living one’s life, giving God thanks for all things, in all ways, and at all times. The Apostle Paul summed it up this way:
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
The past few years have taken a toll on us - to mask or not to mask, to vax or not to vax, travel or stay at home, gun violence, racial unrest, political wars, and general incivility! And let us not forget the pain of those we lost along the way. For some, this will be their first year going through the holidays without them. But we give God thanks for their lives and thanks for their love. This is thanks-living. An every day attitude of gratitude. Each and every day.
Practicing thanks-living leads to both spiritual and physical health. A psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, had 411 people write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone they believed had never been properly thanked. The result was an almost immediate increase in the happiness of the letter writers. Other studies have been done on the benefits of having a grateful attitude.
As we live in union and communion with God, we cannot help but be thankful. Conversely, being unthankful is characteristic of those not living in communion with God as noted by Paul:
“They did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him.”
Romans 1:21, ESV
This Thanksgiving, may we remember our gracious Lord whose hand is ever upon us. Remember the many ways in which God has been with you, provided for you, cared for you, and carried you when the load was too heavy....and give thanks.
Let us also remember those who see no reason to give thanks; those for whom this day is a reminder of the loss of loved ones; those who are homeless; those who have lost hope. Remember the families in Ukraine, in Tigray, in Florida, and all around the world who are suffering from devastation. Say a prayer, lend a hand, give yourself in service to others...and give thanks.
As we develop the habit of thanks-living, may it prompt us to look for ways in which we can be kind to others and show our gratitude to God on a daily basis. Don't let the cynicism of the world stop the work that God has for you to do. You are useful to the Lord and if you have not discovered your purpose yet - just keep doing good. That's a pretty good purpose in life!
I invite you to join us for worship this Sunday, as we celebrate the message: Thanks-Living! You can worship in-person or you can also join us online at 10:00am. For online worship go to www.umcgt.org.
Organ Dedication will be this Sunday, November 20, during worship. Thank you to all who helped make the new organ purchase possible. We will formally dedicate it and Dr. Heyl will bless us with a demonstration of what it can do!
Hanging of the Greens If you’re able to stay for a few moments after worship this Sunday, you can have some fun & fellowship as we decorate the Sanctuary and Narthex for the Advent and Christmas seasons! And I hear that our resident barista will be on hand with coffee and cocoa treats too!
Advent Bible Study “The Heart of Christmas”will start on Wednesday, November 30 and end on December 14. Join us for a potluck dinner at 5:45 and stay for the study at 6:30.
Let it Be Christmas! Do you have your tickets yet? This is a truly unique musical performance that uses the music of The Beatles to tell the Christmas story! And it’s written and produced by our very own Rocky Marlowe! The shows are on Dec. 20 and 21. Let’s show our support and celebrate together. For tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/let-it-be-christmas-tickets-369237749047?aff=ebdssbdestsearch