Grace, Gratitude, and Gifts

Grace, Gratitude, and Gifts

During this season of Lent, we are taking a deeper dive into our expressions of gratitude. In doing so, we are guided by the book Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks by Diana Butler Bass and companion content from The Work of the People.

In the midst of everything happening, our “social distancing” and even some of the blame taking place (some racial, some class-based, etc.) I have been continually reminded by a quote from Fred Rogers.

This is not a new quote. Indeed, I’ve seen this shared in a number of ways, and it is clearly having an impact today. Check out this news video from San Antonio, TX just a few days ago.

In this time of isolation, we are reminded not to give in to the darkness, but to remember the light of Christ that shine’s within us all. In this light, may we find renewed faith.

1 Thessalonians 5:12-24 (CEB)
12Brothers and sisters, we ask you to respect those who are working with you, leading you, and instructing you. 13Think of them highly with love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are disorderly. Comfort the discouraged. Help the weak. Be patient with everyone. 15Make sure no one repays a wrong with a wrong, but always pursue the good for each other and everyone else. 16Rejoice always. 17Pray continually. 18Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19Don’t suppress the Spirit. 20Don’t brush off Spirit-inspired messages, 21but examine everything carefully and hang on to what is good. 22Avoid every kind of evil. 23Now, may the God of peace himself cause you to be completely dedicated to him; and may your spirit, soul, and body be kept intact and blameless at our Lord Jesus Christ’s coming. 24The one who is calling you is faithful and will do this.

Consider these questions:

  1. How do you define “faith?”
  2. In Wesleyan theology, we would say that it is through “grace alone” that we find salvation. What does the phrase “grace alone” conjure for you?

Post-Worship Update on 3/24

Audio from the sermon can be heard below, and video can be found at this link (will open in a new tab).

Sunday’s message was our first with our sister-congregation at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church. The text reminds us to rejoice at all times! To pray at all times! To give thanks in every circumstance!

In a time such as this when we are constantly told to avoid one another, God reminds us that there is still light and joy and connection in the world. In a time such as this, God reminds us that our life of prayer can be life-giving as we connect more fervently with our Creator. In a time such as this, we can give thanks for the helpers, we can give thanks for the doctors and grocery store workers, we can give thanks for first responders, we can give thanks for that helpful neighbor who is willing to pick up groceries for someone who is vulnerable.

The text does not suggest that we are to give thanks for this time, but to give thanks in this time. There are bright spots, there is light, there is reason to hope. May God give us strength so that we might seek out this hope.

Consider these questions:

  1. What does it look like to rejoice always? What does it look like to pray continually?
  2. What does it look like to suppress the Spirit? How do we avoid suppressing the Spirit?
  3. What is the difference between giving thanks in all things, and giving thanks for all things?

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