Dear Church Family
Thankfulness is an important characteristic of the people of God. That's why we're told to 'give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus' (1 Thessalonians 5:18). In every life-situation, big or small, there are ample opportunities to be thankful, if we'll see them and take them.
Being thankful doesn't mean we avoid the pain and struggle of the world. We often give thanks in the midst of the pain. As we do this, we gain fresh perspective and new hope. Thanksgiving is transformative.
In her beautifully written book on thanksgiving (called 'One Thousand Gifts') Ann Voskamp says that she used to think that her busy life would have more meaning and more joy if she could find more time. Now she's changed her mind. Now she knows: 'The real problem of life is never a lack of time. The real problem of life - in my life - is lack of thanksgiving.'
So how are you doing in being thankful? Have you given thanks already today? For the new day? For being alive? For God's presence and power and love? For your family and loved ones? For your church? For food and clothes and money? And will you keep being thankful, throughout the day?
What about the small but wonderful things that we often overlook? Like the smell of fresh linen. The beautiful brown colours of a conker. The sound of children playing. The connectedness of people holding hands.
We have so much to be thankful for. Indeed, as followers of Jesus - loved, forgiven, welcomed, renewed and empowered - we should be the most thankful people on planet earth!
I gave a seminar at August's New Wine 'Inspire' conference on thankfulness, saying that 'thankfulness is the beginning of worship'. It's the way into God's presence. Psalm 100 could not be clearer - that we 'enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise' (v4).
As we come to worship God together this weekend, and then gather together next Thursday for our Evening of Prayer (click here for more details) let's together bring all our thanksgiving to our loving Father. Let's not be afraid to lift up our voices, in unity, as we 'give thanks to him and praise his name.' Why? 'For the Lord is good and his love endures forever' (Ps 100:4-5).
Have a lovely and thank-filled week ahead.