Gratitude is a Practice, a Virtue, and a Way of Life
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” I Thessalonians 5:16-18
The commands to rejoice and give thanks are repeated time and time again in the whole Bible. We often think of whether we feel joyful or thankful, but the Bible gives it as a command in all things and all circumstances.
As we come to Thanksgiving, it is worth noting the conditions of those first celebrations. The history has its complications, but it is rife with famine, disease, and hardship. The early settlers in America and the Native peoples they met here were navigating new interactions that would unfortunately get worse over time, but there in the beginning they gave thanks. And not just on one Thursday in November, but all the time.
Both cultures had seasonal celebrations of gratitude for harvest and the coming of changes.
The Puritans were shaped by the Anglican church’s regular seasons of Christ and the weekly celebration of Eucharist. They were experiencing difficulties they must not have been able to imagine and finding God’s presence in these new circumstances and places. But they continued to give thanks at altar and table weekly and seasonally.
As we gather this week with families at home and at church, with neighbors, friends, and even strangers we did not expect, we remember those who came before us leaving legacies of hope and gratitude. And while we may have much that we would change, we are here to give thanks in our own days for the ways that God is showing up in our lives.
We recognize these people of faith who came looking for new freedoms and the people they met here. We give thanks for all our relations as we learn to God’s ways in new ways and new days. Whether we are struggling or celebrating, we rejoice and give thanks for all that God has given us.
Let us walk together in the way of Christ. And let’s give thanks this week for the freedoms we have and the people we meet as follow God today.
“Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” Malachi 3:10
The Very Rev. Daniel Paul Richards
Christ Church of the Ascension
Paradise Valley, Arizona