Forward Today: The spiritual practice of gratitude

Dear friends in Christ,

The word THANKFUL in gold letters laid on a wooden table, surrounded by crafty cutouts of leaves and pumpkins

Tomorrow those of us in the USA celebrate Thanksgiving Day. It’s a holiday with a complex and complicated history, but I am delighted to keep this day. In the Book of Common Prayer, it is a major feast, right up there with Sundays and big-time saints’ days.

We live in a culture that teaches us to value things about all else. People with more stuff, culture says, are worth more. Our happiness, culture says, comes from what we possess. Thanksgiving upends all that.

This holiday is about gratitude for what we have. In the prayer book celebration of Thanksgiving, we give thanks for God’s gifts to us, and we pray for God’s help in being faithful stewards of these gifts not only for our good but for the good of all who are in need. In other words, for Christians, Thanksgiving is all about God. It is a day to give thanks for all that God has done for us and for the whole creation.

We are living through a time of disruption and upheaval brought about by the pandemic and by the public revelation of deep chasms diving our society. We’ve always lived in a fallen world, but somehow it seems more visible now. It might be easy to become discouraged, to begin to believe that evil, sin, and death define our world.

Thanksgiving reminds us that God’s grace defines our world. We just need to see that, and perhaps reorient our lives toward gratitude. While a sense of gratitude doesn’t banish evil or remedy injustice, it does enable hope and enliven our hearts with an awareness of God’s grace.

What if we changed the narrative? Consider this recent story from CNN about how an accidental Thanksgiving invitation forged a new friendship. I think everyone in this story must have had some deep gratitude. And I also see how their gratitude is magnified by friendship.

I’ve been working on my own sense of gratitude – seeking to be more aware of God’s blessings so that I can be more open to the possibilities of grace in a broken world.

I wish you all a blessed Thanksgiving Day. Beyond the turkey or tofu or whatever you eat, I hope you and yours will find some time to share stories of God’s blessings.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn's signature

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