By Pastor Wes Poole
Awake, my soul! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn. I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is as high as the heavens; your faithfulness extends to the clouds. – NRSV
Scottish minister Alexander Whyte was known for his uplifting prayers in the pulpit. He always found something for which to be grateful. One Sunday morning the weather was so gloomy that one church member thought to himself, “Certainly the preacher won’t think of anything for which to thank the Lord on a wretched day like this.” Much to his surprise, however, Whyte began by praying, “We thank Thee, O God, that it is not always like this.”
Such irrepressible positivity! Would that we all could strive to be more like the good Reverend Whyte! You know, there have been any number of persistent, purveyors of positivity over the years. We’ve probably all heard of Max Lucado’s “Attitude of Gratitude” or remember Norman Vincent Peale’s “Power of Positive Thinking”. While generally positive in their messages, sometimes theirs or similar philosophies are criticized, rightly so, for not recognizing that Christ comes to us first from the cross, to address our brokenness and to restore our relationship with God. This is a fair point, as we know that a life lived as a disciple of Jesus is not all sweetness and light, but that God has promised to support us through the good, the bad, and everything in between. Still, in difficult times, it’s easy to become cynical and dismissive of those who always seek to see the “half full glass”. Taking the time to acknowledge our blessings and to give thanks for them is not naïve or immature, but an appropriate response. For the believer, it is not only faithful living, but beneficial to our mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
November is the traditional time that we in our country devote to giving thanks. Even for those who have not yet come to believe or share our faith, we set aside time to ponder and appreciate the good things in our lives. This coming Sunday, we will come together for one worship service at 9:30, to be followed by an intergenerational Faith Formation program where we will focus on our gratitude to God for all He has done, is doing, and promises yet to do. I hope you will join us. Regardless, I would like to suggest that we all take a few extra moments, as we go about our days and our own journeys of faith, to give thanks to God for His loving and unrelenting care for all of us. God hears our prayers, and promises always to walk with us.
May a holy spirit of gratitude refresh and inspire us always to greater response to God and our neighbor.
Be well, be kind, be safe, and be thankful!
Pastor Wes Poole †