Posted by Rev. Daniel Christian on July 10, 2017
Summer is a wonderful time of year. I love all the signs and symbols that celebrate the arrival of this season! Fourth of July, heat waves, including Ukiah, family vacations, the river, and weddings to name just a few!
As the days lengthen, evening stay warm, barbeques get hot we start feel a sense of connection, relaxation and dare I say, gratitude.
Gratitude is not some generalized well wish upon the stars. There is nothing wrong with wishing on a star, in fact everything very much right about that. However, to live deeper into prayerful and spiritual gratitude we need to draw our spiritual eyes upon a Holy Other. God is at work in our lives and world in extraordinary ways, and, all too often, we forget to say one very simple phrase, “thank you.”
A minister friend of mine, a pediatrician turned Episcopal Priest once told while we were standing in the midst of Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, “If God would stop showing me all these miracles and blessings, I’d be happy to shut up.” In his own humorous and yet profound way he was talking about gratitude.
In our tradition we have a rich variety of forms of prayer that our designed to guide and mature our faith life. We have prayers adoration. This is a prayer that exalts God’s greatness. We have prayers of petition. This is when pray to God for things we need- primarily spiritual needs but physical ones as well. We have prayers of intersession. This type of prayer is when we are not concerned about our own needs, but the needs of others. We have prayers of praise. This type of prayer acknowledges all that God does and is doing. Finally we have prayers of thanksgiving or gratitude. This may be the most neglected. This is prayer that gets us into the habit thanking God throughout the day for ourselves, and others.
The Bible has a familiar story about Jesus healing ten lepers, but only one returns to Jesus. That one is a dreaded Samaritan. But surprise, the Samaritan says thank you to Jesus, while the other nine, don’t bother. What’s up with that? For the Samaritan, the healing was an extraordinary surprise and gift. He didn’t expect it. So he said thank you and was lost in thankfulness and gratitude. Of the ten lepers, which one of them was really blessed? I think it is the one who knew his healing was a gift and retuned to Jesus to say thank you.
Gratitude might be the purest form of spiritual expression and maturity. The absence of gratitude might reveal something different. It reveals a deserving, and entitled attitude, and if you know any of these people, we know that deserving and entitled people think they do not need to thank anyone, ever, and least of all, God. Why say thank you, when the world owes you.
This year I have much to be thankful for. I am doing my best to make sure I pray that as often as I possible. As the days lengthen may we all take time during each day to offer thanks.Have a joyous summer.
Rev. Daniel Christian is the Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Ukiah.
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