"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4: 4-7
Welcome to the season of Lent. During this church season we often engage in practices that help us to reflect on our sins and the gifts of forgiveness, reconciliation and redemption in Jesus Christ on the Cross. This year, 2017, I would like to invite the congregation to engage in practices that deepen our faith journey and widen our experiences of the Christ's sacrificial love – practices of gratitude.
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
Too often in the faith community we speak words of complaint or criticism. During Lent let us begin the practice of speaking words of gratitude and thanksgiving. Let us make these forty days a time of thanksgiving. As the Apostle Paul admonishing the church in Philippi rejoice in the Lord always, giving thanks to God for everything in our lives, a time to appreciate and thank each other for all that is done in our church in service for Christ our Lord.
Why not start with a gratitude journal? Using your Lenten journal, "Then Sings My Soul," on each page or in the back on the blank pages, write three to five things for which you are grateful. Some days it may be hard to come up with three things let alone five. But you can always be thankful for the roof over your head, the clothes you wear, your pets, the food on your table, the fact you are alive and breathing. You may be surprised to see how many things you have to be thankful for.
Beware! If you do this for forty days it just may become a habit and your will always be overflowing with gratitude to God and to those around you. What a blessing that would be! What a blessing you would be!
I thank God for all of you and the dedication you have for God by serving this faith community. My prayer this Lenten season is that we all may be overwhelmed in a new way by the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. May some special spiritual practice take your breath away as the Holy Spirit breathes new life into you.