From the Pastor

December 2017 Newsletter

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:15-17

Thanksgiving is over. Do we still think about giving thanks? Yes, indeed! December is usually a difficult month for me, and I find that it’s even more helpful to think about being grateful in December than it is to be grateful in November. Giving thanks helps us when we are especially busy, and when we are lonely or grieving.

Here’s why: When we thank God for something, we are focusing our thoughts on positive things, and on God- even if only briefly. For a few moments at least, we’re not thinking about to-do lists, or loneliness, or what someone should have done to help us. And when we think about something positive, we feel better. God doesn’t tell us to thank him because he needs the thanks. He tells us to thank him because we need to give thanks.

Giving thanks also clears up the way we see our lives. When I look through a window that is smudged with dirt, I don’t see much beauty outside; not much light gets through to me. Gratitude cleans the window of my mind so that I can see the beauty in my life and rejoice in the light of God.

So I’ve decided that instead of doing an Advent calendar this year, I will do a Gratitude calendar. On Thursday, November 30th, I’m going to start with Z and list all the things I’m grateful for that start with Z on my calendar. On Friday, December 1st, I’ll list all the things I’m grateful for that start with Y on my calendar; and so on, until I get to A on December 25th.

For instance, on November 30th, I could list zephyr, zero (essential for all branches of mathematics and science), zinc (a micronutrient we all need), Zion, zippers, and zoos. How long has it been since you stopped to thank God for your jacket zipper, or for the concept of zero? Those aren’t things that we mention around the dinner table as the highlights of our day. But they certainly make our lives easier and more pleasant.

Paul tells us that the life of a Christian is a life of gratitude, among other things. He mentions gratitude three times during this brief passage from Colossians. His life was not an easy one; in 2 Corinthians 11:23-29 he mentions some of his sufferings and I don’t think any of us would want to share in them. Yet throughout his letters he thanks, God; he thanks his congregations; and he reminds us of the importance of giving thanks. Paul shows us that if he can give thanks in the midst of his difficult life, we surely can give thanks in the midst of our own lives.

Why not join me in doing a Gratitude calendar this year? That would be an Advent spiritual practice that would be different than usual. If you are interested, I will have some blank calendar pages in the Narthex. You can just pick one up. And who knows? You may find that December is more of a blessing than usual, just because you took the time to thank God for all the things that you would usually overlook.

May the peace of Christ be with you,

Pastor Janet

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