Rabbi Harold Kushner shares, “I read an interview with a man whose small plane had crash-landed at a California air strip. Fortunately he was able to evacuate before the plane burst into flames. A reporter asked him what was going through his mind as the plane neared the ground. His answer: ‘I realized I hadn’t thanked enough people in my life.'” (Kushner, The Lord Is My Shepherd). I would be interested to know who came to the man’s mind. Did he wish to thank his children who taught him to love more selflessly than he ever thought was possible? Was it his spouse who stood at his side even through rough times–PTSD, cancer, bankruptcy, or some other struggle? Did he wish to thank a friend who once pulled him from the dark abyss of depression? Was it an A.A. group that turned his life around? Perhaps it was a flight instructor who equipped him to do his very best at this moment when a crash was imminent? Maybe it was a parent who was patient through his roller-coaster teen-aged years? Perhaps it was a doctor that helped him survive a childhood illness and go on to live a full, meaningful life?
Whoever the man wished to thank is not as important for me or you, as who it is we need to thank before leaving this world. Most of us have been blessed, forgiven, uplifted, healed, encouraged, and guided on life’s journey more than we know. Sometimes there is moment when gratitude wells up. It may be at the time of a near-death experience. It may be when we simply slow down long enough and quiet our busy minds enough to remember how fortunate we are to have people who care for us. We need make space for gratitude in our lives: because, every “safe travels,” “get well soon,” “I’ll be thinking of you,” or “remember, if you ever need a listening ear,” is a reason (and a person) worthy of thanks.
The Apostle Paul, who had several near death experiences, wrote these words to the Philippians, “Don’t be anxious about anything; rather bring up all your requests to God in your prayers and petitions–along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God will keep your hearts and minds… .” (Philippians 4:6-7a) How can you give thanks today to someone who has blessed you? What blessings has God provided you and how will you show your gratitude?
November 17th Grace will have a Sunday of Thanks and Giving. It’s a Sunday when we’re encouraged to give monetary gifts to support Grace Church’s ministry. But, there’ll also be an opportunity to privately reflect on a 2019 God-given blessing or two you’re thankful for. So, I invite you to be thinking ahead of time about what you’re most thankful for this past year. You’ll have a chance to privately offer your thanks in a meaningful way during the service.
Blessings & Thank You for how you bless Grace UMC,