Preparing for Worship – Jenna Sullivan, pastoral resident.
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart! (Psalm 111).
Our psalm today speaks of wholehearted gratitude. In our staff meeting this week we practiced gratitude as Heather Mustain asked us to reflect on what we were thankful for. Gratitude, as she reminded us, is part of what helps us find contentment and joy even when other competing emotions rumble.
It is so hard to truly live in this kind of thankfulness each day. We are often so concerned with grieving what we have already lost or worrying about what we might lose in the future. To be present and mindful of our current blessings takes a lot of practice. And sometimes we do give thanks, but only with part of our heart. But God’s wholehearted love deserves our wholehearted gratitude.
So what keeps us from offering our whole hearts up in thanks? Maybe we are weary. Maybe we are tired of constantly making new plans and adapting old ones for an ongoing virus. Maybe we are lonely and find it difficult to shift into sincere gratitude. Maybe we have situations that we frankly aren’t very thankful for.
As we prepare to worship today, spend some time reflecting on what you are thankful for. Even now, even in the midst of it all, what do you want to whisper thank you to God for? How can you bring your whole-hearted gratitude to worship?
Allow a warm feeling of gratitude to wash over you. What if you shifted from a mindset of fear and embraced what you do already have? If God’s love does indeed endure forever, then we can rest in the assurance of God’s eternal loving presence. What a gift.
Gratitude may feel uncomfortable when we are used to living without it. Perhaps we have become committed to fearful and discontented living. God wants more for us. There is so much to give thanks for.
I am grateful for our two new residents John and Brianna, who have already lit up my life with their warm spirits and easy laughter. I give thanks for this faith community that has already deeply nurtured the emerging pastor within me. I give thanks for a God whose love will never let us go. We are held securely in the hands of a loving Creator. Thanks be to God!