Sunday, October 7, 2007
WHAT DOES A HEALTHY CHURCH LOOK LIKE? (5: GRATEFULNESS)
Another feature of healthy churches is that their members take seriously the apostle's admonition: '[Give] thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.' (Ephesians 5:20).
A 13-year-old at a formal dinner spills her main course all over her lap: meat, gravy, vegetables - the lot. Later, she recalls this as one of life's darkest moments, overshadowing a hundred good things that happened to her that week... I have an arthritic finger, a legacy of an old football injury: it occupies my attention more than the thousand parts of my body functioning perfectly.
The surrealists have captured this strangeness in their art: a manure heap in the corner of a field will dominate the canvas, obliterating or obscuring the flowers, whereas in the real landscape the manure heap is quite small.
That's why we are invited to give thanks in all things, at all times. In everything! If it wasn't Paul writing those injunctions I could hardly believe them: he knew what hardship and trouble and plans going wrong were all about. And he knew the imperfections of the churches he founded and visited!
In every time of worship we ought to be invited to 'count our blessings'. Thanksgiving is an attitude of life that recognizes that everything is a gift: and all good gifts come from God. It's also an attitude that has to be taught. Complaining comes naturally; children have to learn to be grateful.
Here's a thought I read somewhere: There's a special thing for which you can be thankful - only you and God have all the facts about yourself!
Suggestion: Phone or write/email someone expressing your gratitude for something they are, or have done. Go on... do it!
Prayer: O Lord you have given us so such. Please give us one thing more - a grateful heart. Amen.
More on Gratefulness/Gratitude...