Forward Today: Extravagant gratitude

Dear friends,

Tomorrow in the USA, it’s Thanksgiving Day. It’s rather remarkable that this day devoted to gratitude survives. We could have a fruitful exploration of the history of this day, or we could talk about the irony of people getting stressed out to cook massive meals on a day meant for giving thanks. But let us instead savor a day focused on gratitude.

We have so much for which to be thankful. Indeed, lots of scripture tells us to give thanks. The whole of the Christian faith is about grace, the free gift of salvation in Jesus Christ, and grace begets gratitude. It’s really that simple. Every blessing in this life and in the life to come are gifts from God. How can we help but be grateful?

If that all weren’t enough, we know that people who are grateful are happier. It makes perfect sense: if my fundamental disposition is toward gratitude, I’m less likely to become aggrieved when something doesn’t go just the way I want it to go.

One wise friend of mine devotes time every morning to thanksgiving. He names things – maybe 25, maybe 50 – that he’s grateful for. It’s a spiritual practice that builds up his ability to be grateful more often, I’m sure.

So I’d like to challenge us all to practice extravagant gratitude. Find some way this week – do not put it off – to express your gratitude. I was inspired by a story in the Washington Post about a man who invites strangers to Thanksgiving dinner. Do you know someone who needs a place to eat? Invite someone to join your family and friends for the day.

Or maybe you’ll thank someone in your life who it might be easy to take for granted. Thank a co-worker or a shop keeper or a service worker. And don’t just say “thanks.” Express your gratitude tangibly, extravagantly. Write a note. Give a gift.

Perhaps at your Thanksgiving Day meal, if you share it with friends, you’ll set aside a few minutes to express gratitude. It’s easy enough to go once around the circle and say the obvious things. Go around a couple more times and reach deeper for even more ways to express thanks.

Best of all, spend part of Thanksgiving Day in church, giving thanks to God for all that God has done for us.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to spend a few minutes each week reflecting on life as I write these Forward Today emails. I hope they’re helpful, at least occasionally, in your journey. Blessings, friends.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director