This is the text of my Thanksgiving letter to the church family at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church. I share the same sentiments and prayers with you!
It’s Thanksgiving Day, again! I realize that some of us may not have been raised with a family or cultural tradition around the official holiday of Thanksgiving, but I know we all have people and blessings in our lives which cause us to be thankful. When next you spend some time with St. Paul’s letters to the churches, watch for how many times he expresses thankfulness or encourages it in his readers. He often begins letters with his thankfulness and adds thankfulness as an ending to important ideas, like in Colossians 3:15, “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” He mentions gratitude and thankfulness in each of the next two verses as well, wrapping up a longer discussion in the chapter about setting our minds on Christ and living lives of blessing to one another.
Gratitude is a foundation for living joyfully, blessing others around us and for facing all the seasons of life, the best and the most trying. And gratitude is not just a decision or a feeling, but it’s also a practice. We do gratitude. It can be practiced in many ways, with a thankfulness journal, sharing our gratitude with friends and family, simply saying thank you, and it should always be part of prayers.
Speaking of prayers, let’s look at A General Thanksgiving on page 836 of The Book of Common Prayer. It has a beautiful way of leading us to explore all the areas of gratitude in our lives…
Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love. We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side.
We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy and delight us. We thank you also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.
Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast obedience, by which he overcame temptation; for his dying, through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom.
Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know Christ and make him known; and through him, at all times and in all places, may give thanks to you in all things. Amen.
I love the way this prayer takes us on a short journey through all the various seasons and landscapes of life; we have the world around us, the people around us, the work we do and the work of God in us. Seasons and landscapes may change, and days can be better or worse, but gratitude is a constant upon which we can build our lives.
How will we practice gratitude on Thanksgiving Day? How can we weave the practice into daily life? I invite you to try some different things, from listing items of gratitude (counting our blessings), to taking some quiet time to meditate on sources of joy in life. And in all things I pray that God blesses you in the day on Thursday and in all of the coming holiday season.
With peace, Rev Todd
Howard Jones has been singing to me for years upon years, and his lessons are still as golden now as when I was a teenager. I’m feeling grateful for Jones today, and I’d like to review some of the best things he has been preaching to us through the years. Some of the things are obvious and built right into the song titles, and some come back again and again through his lyrics…
Don’t get in a rush, it won’t help. Life In One Day
Don’t always look at the negatives. Don’t Always Look at The Rain
Chill, it’s not just you. No One Is To Blame
There are some things we all must learn for ourselves. Look Mama
Hold on. Things Can Only Get Better
We’re all unique and awesome, so be your authentic self and accept others in their realities. Like To Get To Know You Well, Conditioning & Equality
Wait for an exciting, fun & valuing love. You’re worth it. An Everlasting Love
You’re good. Believe it. Specialty
Open your mind and enjoy the ride. New Song
There’s so much more; keep exploring! Hide And Seek, Hunt The Self & Always Asking Questions
Enough with the hate. We’re all one. Elegy
But Jones is not all pop sugar and happy feelings. We hear him lamenting loneliness (City Song) and all of our unfulfilled hopes and dreams (Hunger For The Flesh). We hear his pain and struggle to understand his own thoughts and the desire that we would hear his lessons before we’ve lost too much (Assault and Battery, The Prisoner, Last Supper, What Is Love, Human’s Lib, Pearl and The Shell & Exodus). All this is what I’ve heard from Jones, and might be incredibly far from what he intends with his music, but I am grateful. These are the lessons he has instilled in me, and he’ll always be one of my favorite teachers. I’m better for having his music in my life.
It was such an amazing thing to hear him live in concert in 2015, a full 30 years after I first began my journey with his music. Jones has always been so real to me, though never even an acquaintance, and it’s been a blast to grow old together. He’s hopeful, hurting, healing and seemingly unstoppable. Amazingly, he sounds as good today as when I first popped that Dream Into Action cassette into a player in 1985. I truly hope he lives forever.
With gratitude, Todd