"I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Jesus Christ" - 1 Corinthians 1:4
It's natural to complain and grumble. When life doesn't go our way - when plans change or are cancelled - our instinct is to scream and shout and throw our fists into the air. Truth be told, there's a lot to grumble about these days. During these last 7 weeks of the Stay-At-Home order, we've missed friends and family, birthdays and anniversaries, spring sports and formal dances, parades and graduations. It's in times like this when we most need to give thanks. Gratitude vaccinates our mind from the poison of bitterness. Thanksgiving guards our hearts from falling into the pit of despair. Yes - life is hard and every day is full of reasons for grumbling. However - life is also a gift and there are just as many reasons for gratitude. Yesterday, I made a list of people/things I am grateful for. As a parent, I am grateful for the countless sacrifices and selfless acts made by my mom and dad. As a pastor, I am grateful for Pastor Caitlyn, whose gentle kindness never cease to amaze me. As a technological novice, I am grateful for our technology team, Diane Barnett, Anna Hopper, and Sandy Mawhinne, whose passion for ministry is matched only by their patience with me. My morning's list went on and on. I stopped writing only because my family started waking and my hand started cramping. My guess is - if you started this list, the same would be true for you. Recently, I read a quote by Pope Francis. He wrote, "Rivers do not drink their own water; trees do not eat their own fruit; the sun does not shine on itself and flowers do not spread their fragrance for themselves. Living for others (and I would include "living with gratitude") is a rule of nature. We are all born to help each other. No matter how difficult it is, life is good when you are happy, but it's much better when others are happy because of you."
So, let's live this new day with gladness. Let's claim an attitude of gratitude. Let's be less preoccupied with ourselves and more aware of others. And let's live this day with thanks. Thank you for being such a wonderful congregation and wonderful friends,