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.
Rev. Jeri Newell-Davis from St. Mark’s UMC will bring Sunday’s message and she shares the following:
It’s Sunday afternoon, and the sun is shining, although clouds are beginning to form. The weather report says we will get more rain. This seems to be a pattern right now, rain, sun, rain, sun. But having come through droughts we know how important the rain is for our earth, and for our survival as people of the earth. I give thanks for the rain that heals creation.
Many of you may be feeling a bit anxious about staying indoors during this pandemic, and I don’t blame you. This is not what we are accustomed to. We are creatures of habit, people who like our freedom. But I know the pandemic, like the drought, will end and we will have the freedom to go about our routines once again. And we will give thanks when this season has ended.
But what if we gave thanks now? What if we looked at the abundance of what is around us now? Maybe it’s hard to imagine abundance as we stroll aisles of stores with bare shelves, but now we have time to do those things we postponed by saying, “If I only had time, I’d do (fill in the blank).” For me it might be cleaning my home office, or binge watch Amazon Prime Movies. There is probably an abundance of projects you’ve deferred, like me. It is easy to say, “If I only had time” but when time arrives, sometimes we are too tired to do anything. If you choose to do nothing, that is good too. We can all use some rest. I give thanks to God for Sabbath time.
Luke 7:36-50 (CEB)
36One of the Pharisees invited Jesus to eat with him. After he entered the Pharisee’s home, he took his place at the table. 37Meanwhile, a woman from the city, a sinner, discovered that Jesus was dining in the Pharisee’s house. She brought perfumed oil in a vase made of alabaster. 38Standing behind him at his feet and crying, she began to wet his feet with her tears. She wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and poured the oil on them. 39When the Pharisee who had invited Jesus saw what was happening, he said to himself, If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. He would know that she is a sinner.
40Jesus replied, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”
“Teacher, speak,” he said.
41“A certain lender had two debtors. One owed enough money to pay five hundred people for a day’s work. The other owed enough money for fifty. 42When they couldn’t pay, the lender forgave the debts of them both. Which of them will love him more?”
43Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the largest debt canceled.”
Jesus said, “You have judged correctly.”
44Jesus turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I entered your home, you didn’t give me water for my feet, but she wet my feet with tears and wiped them with her hair. 45You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but she hasn’t stopped kissing my feet since I came in. 46You didn’t anoint my head with oil, but she has poured perfumed oil on my feet. 47This is why I tell you that her many sins have been forgiven; so she has shown great love. The one who is forgiven little loves little.”
48Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49The other table guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this person that even forgives sins?”
50Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
Consider these questions:
- What is gratitude to you? What does it look like? What does it feel like?
- What is abundance? Have you experienced abundance? If so, what does it feel like? If not, what does its absence feel like?