Thurs, Nov 26 Gratitude Reflection (Thanksgiving Day)

Notice what is still and calm, without motion or activity. Give thanks for this aspect of your world.

            A lake or pond, for instance, reflects like a mirror when still. It gives back the world to itself. It echoes and returns what is offered to it.

            A boulder or stone ledge has no voice. Such rock scapes show traces of age and reveal the record of geological events via their exposed layers. Yet they remain mute, silent, and seemingly permanent. They are tangible, solid, and ever-present: a source of serenity and assurance.

            What is still in your life? Calm? A place or way that is rooted, or centered, simply by its existence?

            Give thanks for stillness, for calm. Appreciate the opportunity to pause all the motion and remain in one place. — Rev Gail

Be still, and know that I am God. —Psalm 46:10

He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. —Mark 4:39

The ship of my life may or may not be sailing on calm and amiable seas. The challenging days of my existence may or may not be bright and promising. Stormy or sunny days, glorious or lonely nights, I maintain an attitude of gratitude. If I insist on being pessimistic, there is always tomorrow. Today I am blessed. — Maya Angelou

Resentment indicates we are still trying to fill the emptiness with something we think we deserve. Gratitude is the sign that God has filled the hole; indeed, that God has become the Whole in Whom we live, move, and have our being. – Steve Harper

Wed, Nov 25 Gratitude Reflection

Give thanks for fear and anger. What do these emotions reveal to you?

            Often our spiritual teachers, our advisors and guides and mentors, suggest that we speak to our difficult emotions such as anger and fear. This may be a time for journaling as an alternate form of conversation with one’s self. Or start a dialogue by imagining these parts of yourself — the self caught up in fear or the self in the grips of anger — sitting in a chair opposite to you.

Begin a conversation. Learn, from yourself, about yourself. Interview yourself. Be willing to be surprised.

We can ask questions of these states of being: fear and anger. Where do these feelings begin? What do they need from us? How do we feed and fuel them? If we speak with tenderness to fear and anger, and appreciate its presence as part of ourselves, what would we say to it? What would it say to us?

            We can be victims of these emotions. Or we can accept them as guides. We ought not to allow ourselves to be motivated by them, but to be instructed by them. They are present as part of the human experience, and they tell us that we must pay attention when we notice them.
            Give thanks for fear and anger, and what we learn about ourselves, and how we may grow, because of them.
— Rev Gail

O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol,
    restored me to life
from among those gone down to the Pit.
Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones,
    and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may linger for the night,
 but joy comes with the morning.
            — Psalm 30:3-5

You will say in that day: I will give thanks to you, O Lord, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, and you comforted me. Isaiah 12:1

Love takes off the masks we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. — James Baldwin

I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers. Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure. Oliver Sacks

True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not. Seneca

The Psalms are, in a sense, God’s way of holding space for us. They invite us to rejoice, wrestle, cry, complain, offer thanks, and shout obscenities before our Maker without self-consciousness and without fear. Rachel Held Evans

Tue, Nov 24 Gratitude Reflection

Appreciate questions. Sometimes it is essential to dwell in the uncertainty of asking, the discomfort of not knowing. Sometimes we get a choice, as when we are students, and opt to learn. Other times, we are thrust into such situations, and must cope. Either way, this becomes a necessary skill: to be present to what we have not yet learned or thought, and to discover that there is much we do not yet understand.

            To ask, or to be asked, is to become vulnerable. When you inquire, you enter into a reciprocal relationship, expressing your own need for information or education, admitting you need support or assistance to attain the answer you seek. You acknowledge that, one way or another, you are seeking. You also turn to someone else for guidance toward an answer.

            Sometimes, simply by asking, you also discover that you know what is needed. That by articulating the question, you find insight within yourself.

            At the same time, to ask a question, or to be asked, is to become strong. When you embrace the state of uncertainty and not-knowing, you become more comfortable with growing and learning. To ask a question is to become more connected, to open yourself to the resources of a network of relationships. To be asked a question is to be honored or perceived as someone who serves as a guide or mentor.

            Appreciate that in the asking, or being asked, you do not have to know the answer. Sometimes it is best to acknowledge that you, too, will have to make inquiries in order to provide a solution or information. Or that if you are the one asking the question, be prepared with patience and humility, to wait for answers, or to receive only partial responses and incomplete understanding.

            Give thanks for questions. — Rev Gail

To you, O God of my ancestors,
    I give thanks and praise,
for you have given me wisdom and power,
    and have now revealed to me what we asked of you,
    for you have revealed to us what the king ordered.
— Daniel 2:23-24

There are going to be frustrations in life. The question is not: How do I escape? It is: How can I use this as something positive? Dalai Lama

GRATITUDE (excerpt) — Mary Oliver
What did you notice?
What did you hear?
When did you admire?
What astonished you?
What would you like to see again?
What was most tender?
What was most wonderful?
What did you think was happening?

Mon, Nov 23 Gratitude Reflection

Give thanks for what is new: relationship, belonging, place, or experience. Be grateful and attentive to whatever comes to mind, that is new in your life right now.

            Appreciate its presence. Imagine its freshness. Savor its capacity to be put to use or to be discovered. What must you learn about this new and previously-unknown thing or person or place which you are noticing?

            New can imply young. Immature. Just getting started. Something just created or conceived. Or new can signify that it is unfamiliar to you, has just arrived in your life, regardless of its condition, purpose, or its age. With something new comes the possibility of discovery. Of surprise. Or wonder. Of rejuvenation.

            Give thanks for something new in your day or your life. — Rev Gail

“For there is hope for a tree,
    if it is cut down, that it will sprout again,
    and that its shoots will not cease.
Though its root grows old in the earth,
    and its stump dies in the ground,
yet at the scent of water it will bud
    and put forth branches like a young plant.
—    Job 14:7-9

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them. — Revelation 21: 1-3

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!  — 2 Corinthians 5:17

As each day comes to us refreshed and anew, so does my gratitude renew itself daily. The breaking of the sun over the horizon is my grateful heart dawning upon a blessed world. — Terri Guillemets

Jesus calls us to gratitude. He calls us to recognize that gladness and sadness are never separate, that joy and sorrow really belong together, and that mourning and dancing are part of the same movement. That is why Jesus calls us to be grateful for every moment that we have lived and to claim our unique journey as God’s way to mold our hearts to greater conformity with God’s own. The cross is the main symbol of our faith, and it invites us to find hope where we see pain and to reaffirm the resurrection where we see death. The call to be grateful is a call to trust that every moment of our life can be claimed as the way of the cross that leads us to new life. – Henri Nouwen

Nov 22 Worship with Gratitude Focus

Worship Service

Message

JCC 112220 Gratitude for Next Chances from architect on Vimeo.

PRAYER of THANKSGIVING by Howard Thurman

Note: Thanks to Maren Tirabassi for posting this on her Facebook page. We shared it and reflected on it during two worship services.

Prayer of Thanksgiving by Howard Thurman, 1899–1981

Today, I make my Sacrament of Thanksgiving.
I begin with the simple things of my days:
Fresh air to breathe,
Cool water to drink,
The taste of food,
The protection of houses and clothes,
The comforts of home.
For all these I make an act of Thanksgiving this day!

I bring to mind all the warmth of humankind that I have known:
My mother’s arms,
The strength of my father
The playmates of my childhood,
The wonderful stories brought to me from the lives
Of many who talked of days gone by when fairies
And giants and all kinds of magic held sway;
The tears I have shed, the tears I have seen;
The excitement of laughter and the twinkle in the
Eye with its reminder that life is good.
For all these I make an act of Thanksgiving this day!

I finger one by one the messages of hope that awaited me at the crossroads:
The smile of approval from those who held in their hands the reins of my security;
The tightening of the grip in a simple handshake when I
Feared the step before me in darkness;
The whisper in my heart when the temptation was fiercest
And the claims of appetite were not to be denied;
The crucial word said, the simple sentence from an open
Page when my decision hung in the balance.
For all these I make an act of Thanksgiving this day!

I pass before me the main springs of my heritage:
The fruits of labors of countless generations who lived before me,
Without whom my own life would have no meaning;
The seers who saw visions and dreamed dreams;
The prophets who sensed a truth greater than the mind could grasp
And whose words would only find fulfillment
In the years which they would never see;
The workers whose sweat has watered the trees,
The leaves of which are for the healing of the nations;
The pilgrims who set their sails for lands beyond all horizons,
Whose courage made paths into new worlds and far off places;
The saviors whose blood was shed with a recklessness that only a dream
Could inspire and God could command.
For all this I make an act of Thanksgiving this day!

I linger over the meaning of my own life and the commitment
To which I give the loyalty of my heart and mind:
The little purposes in which I have shared my loves,
My desires, my gifts;
The restlessness which bottoms all I do with its stark insistence
That I have never done my best, I have never dared
To reach for the highest;
The big hope that never quite deserts me, that I and my kind
Will study war no more, that love and tenderness and all the
inner graces of Almighty affection will cover the life of the
children of God as the waters cover the sea.
All these and more than mind can think and heart can feel,
I make as my sacrament of Thanksgiving to Thee,
[O God] in humbleness of mind and simplicity of heart.

Scroll to top