Gabriel's Horn, Pastor George Weaver, November, 2017

posted Oct 30, 2017, 9:24 AM by Lois Kerchner

FLEXING ONE'S GRATITUDE MUSCLES

Regular physical exercise is highly recommended as a good thing for everyone. Our muscles quickly deteriorate and weaken when we don't put them to their intended use. “If you don't use them, you lose them,” is certainly apropos with regards to regularly exercising our bodies. And as we approach another Thanksgiving season, we might consider “Gratitude” in a similar fashion.

Gratitude is not an inborn trait or characteristic that some have and others don't. Instead of being an inherited trait such as eye or hair coloration it is more like a muscle that can either be weakened or strengthened over time. Just as we need regular physical exercise, it's important to be intentional in regularly exercising our “Gratitude Muscles”. So just how do we go about keeping our gratitude muscles in good shape?

Perhaps we might start by counting our blessings. “Count your blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.” These words come from an old hymn Christians have sung for more than 100 years, and the message is still important today. A key ingredient to the pilgrim journey we are traveling is taking stock of the gifts God has given us.

Psalm 136 has reminded people of this fact for well over 2,000 years, and it urges us to remember God’s goodness in community. In this psalm we can see a clear call-and-­response format. As God’s people sang this psalm together, a worship leader would sing the first phrase, and the people would respond with the refrain “His love endures forever.” Again and again they would recount what God had done for them – from freeing them, to feeding them, to remembering them. And as they recounted their blessings, they would say, “God's love endures forever.”

Perhaps you have noticed at times while worshiping with God’s people the various echoes of this psalm’s graceful rhythms. The wonders of God’s grace and forgiveness are declared, and in response worshipers sing a hymn of thanksgiving. The good news that Jesus saves and that God’s Spirit is at work among us is preached, and the people assembled commit themselves to grateful service. At the end of the worship time together, God’s promise of blessing is spoken over his people, and they receive it joyfully with a hearty “Amen.”

The event that Americans commonly call the "First Thanksgiving" was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the "New World" in October of 1621. This feast lasted three days, and is said to have been attended by 90 Native American Indians and 53 Pilgrims. The colonists in New England became accustomed to regularly celebrating "thanksgivings"— days of prayer giving thanks to God for blessings such as the end of a drought or a bountiful harvest.

On Thanksgiving Day this year who will you join to count your blessings? As you gather together, will you remember to lift up those thankful words found in Psalm 136: “Lord, your works are wonderful. You have re­mem­bered us. Your love endures forever.”

As we come to November of 2017, do not neglect to exercise your “Gratitude Muscles” as you prepare to celebrate another glorious Thanksgiving Season. Let us come with a thankful heart before our Gracious, Creator God, whose wonderful love endures forever.

 

 

George Weaver, Pastor of Maturing Ministries  

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