This Sunday, December 2, 2018 begins the Christian New Year. It is the season of Advent, a season of waiting, of expectation and preparation for the birth of Jesus. I am very excited about our Advent season, but I am also energized by the challenge I talked about in worship on Sunday that we, at First United Methodist Church, in downtown Wichita, Kansas embark on a thankful year. Each week I will be encouraging people to write one thank you note, and to do one thing out of gratitude and thanksgiving.
I will be publishing “prompts” and ideas each week on the theme for each month. You can find those themes here on our website. For December, the theme will be gifts. For this week, before we actually begin, I would like to encourage you to write one thank you note. Maybe it can be for a beautiful thanksgiving meal you had with someone last week, or perhaps a coffee date, or just a note to thank one person for what they mean to you and the difference they have made in your life.
Let’s get started. I believe that a year of gratitude can change not only my life, but yours and begin the process of transforming the world. Meister Eckhart wrote, “If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is thank you, it will be enough.” I believe that, but I also believe that prayer is more than words, it is a way life. I am deeply grateful for the congregation I serve, for family, for friends and for those who read my blog.
Thank you, and may all of us be blessed in this year of gratitude.
Today was interesting day in Kansas. When I headed out early this morning, it was cloudy and windy from the north, but not yet bitter, nor was there any moisture in the air. First service began with a handful of people and ended up with over 20 in worship, which I would not have guessed given our forecast. By the time that service ended the snow had arrived. The original forecast was for Wichita to have a “trace” and by 9:00 a.m. that forecast had changed from a trace to 2-4 inches. Churches all over the state cancelled because of the blizzard and the weather was terrible.
Our second service was very light, as expected, but what a morning it was. I am well aware when the weather is bad across the state, we have many more people worship with us via KAKE TV (our ABC affliate) and our online streaming. We introduced our two newest staff members and ended our sermon series, “Thankful 24/7.”
It is one of those odd years we are not yet in Advent, so we had one more opportunity to look at what it means to give thanks and to be grateful. My challenge today was for us to have a year of gratitude. The idea is not original to me, but I have been considering for three or four years. In worship each person was given a card with each month and it’s theme. We will begin with the Christian New Year which is next week and the first of Advent. On this blog I will be giving weekly “prompts” with ideas for thank you notes and ways to live out our gratitude.
I am looking to this challenge as I strive to be Thankful 24/7 and to commit to a year of gratitude. Today’s worship service can be found here. May this year be one of deep thankfulness.
Four years ago I wrote this blog, just a year after my mother’s death. That year I had three of us for Thanksgiving dinner, myself, my husband and my husband’s mother, my mother-in-law. Just moments ago, my husband were eating dinner and both got a bit teary eyed. My mother-in-law his mother died a couple of weeks ago at 98 1/2. It is that time of the year. I am reminded by this blog we don’t know how many holidays we might have family. My mother-in-law hadn’t been in our home for a couple of years. It was just too hard.
Yet, still I am so grateful for those times we did have together. I am grateful for every time I had to share with family and friends. Life is short and such a gift. Tonight I am both sad and thankful. I am sad because there are people I have loved and I miss them. I am thankful for the love and laughter shared. I wouldn’t have a missed a moment.
Thanksgiving reminds me of that deep gratitude and love.
This week’s Friday Five from RevGalBlogPals was all about Thanksgiving. You can read the prompt in the above link. This Thanksgiving, like last years is different. Last year, my family gathered to celebrate my mother’s life. Our hope had been that she would live that long and as much of her family as was possible would gather, as we had not for years to have Thanksgiving together. Instead, on Tuesday of that week, we had her memorial service and then cooked up a storm and ate together and shared together.
This year, like last is much different. For the the first time none of my children will be home for Thanksgiving. Life and circumstances often change celebrations. I am used to having more anywhere from ten to twentyfive for dinner. This year, there will be three, my husband, my husbands mother and myself. I am not sure how to “cook”…
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I love Thanksgiving. It may be my favorite holiday, but maybe not. I love the fall colors, the food, the opportunity to gather family and friends, the laughter and the pause to give thanks. Thanksgiving doesn’t require any religious affliation. Thanksgiving is an invitation to say “thank you.”
Sunday’s service was about being intentional with gratitude. The music was marvelous, we sang some of my favorite “thanksgiving songs” and we focused on giving thanks 24/7. You can find the link to the whole service here.
I wish you and yours a most joyful and blessed Thanksgiving!
We started a new sermon series yesterday, “Thankful 24/7.” Now I am aware we all KNOW we are supposed to be thankful, grateful for all of the gifts of life we receive. I also know how easy it is to forget. Sometimes the road is rocky and the path is difficult and it becomes harder to experience the blessings of life.
The journey of grief is one of those experiences that both encourages gratitude and blocks the feelings of thankfulness. Grief reminds us how short life really is, and how quickly we can lose someone we love. Grief is the great equalizer as that all people experience it one way or another.
Perhaps that is why All Saints Sunday is one of my favorite worship services of the year. Not because it is a “happy Sunday” but because All Saints reminds me of how precious life is and how each person can make a difference in the lives of others. During worship, as always, I am reminded not only of those persons I have loved and lost this, but of those I have lost in my lifetime.
This year particularly I am more aware because my mother-in-law is journeying through final days. As the days turn cooler, the leaves fall and the earth prepares for another winter, I am praying that mother in law transitions from this life to the next in peace surrounded by love and grace.
Here is the link for yesterdays worship service where prayers were raised, candles lit, communion celebrated and music shared to commemorate this most sacred of Sundays.