gratitude | noun | grat·i·tude | \ ˈgra-tə-ˌtüd , -ˌtyüd\
the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness
One of the most consistent and helpful practices of our family is what my wife, Jennifer coined as, “Three Things.” We would sit around the table and simply share what three things we were grateful for that day. Sometimes it was a quick practice and other times it led into deeper places and extended conversations. While we don’t do it as often as we once did as a complete family we still find our-selves practicing this simple yet effective exercise.
What are your three things today?
This question causes me to pause. This pause is so important. Many of my days are frenetic and full to the brim with need and activity. The practice of pausing to consider and remember what I am grateful for is perhaps my most helpful spiritual practice while navigating a frenetic life in general and specifically this Fall Season at SJC.
Gratitude in Action is what our vestry and clergy have decided that our Annual Stewardship Campaign theme will be this year. It makes so much sense. We have so much to be grateful for at SJC and there is so much activity. SJC is truly a symbol of Gratitude in Action. Also, it makes sense because of the need to be grateful. I use the word need purposefully. Life is not easy, much of the time it is hard. I often say that my life as a priest is not difficult, but rather it is heavy. It is heavy in that my work is to carry and care for a community of people. It is sweet work that I love, yet without a conscious practice of gratitude, I can forget the Joyful Goodness and just feel the heaviness.
Our faith and tradition remind us that God wishes for us to be participants in Creation, not simply observers. We are invited and encouraged to be co-creators with God in sharing the Good News with all people. We do that in the worship of God and in the service of God and neighbor. Practicing our gratitude opens us up to do that work of Loving God and neighbor.
So I invite you to take a pause and consider your gratitude. It is a practice that will never go out of style. It is practical and moves us toward joy. Jesus’ words to his friends say it well in John’s Gospel Chapter 15 verse 11 “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.”
I pray daily that we will continue to be an intentionally grateful community that chases Joy!