Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and while that means turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and football, it also means that we are moving towards a day that invites us to explore the spiritual practice of gratitude. Have you ever considered how intimately linked the act of “giving thanks” is with how we live our faith? In this Playlist we’ll explore the spiritual practice of gratitude.
Let’s begin with a reading of Scripture from 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-19:
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Next, grab a pen and piece of paper, or pull up a blank document on your computer, and make a list of 10 things that you’re grateful for. Write down the first 10 that immediately come to mind.
Watch this 6-minute video by Diana Butler Bass called “Grace, Gratitude and Gifts.”
Diana says that we have a tendency to want to give thanks for our stuff. In the U.S. there is a tendency to think that all we give thanks for are our material blessings, or our health and wellness, which in the end is an economic vision of gratitude. Go back to the list you created and note how many from your 10 were material blessings.
Now try and stretch your list from 10 to 15, but make sure this next 5 are not material blessings. What “gifts” are now included in your list?
Diana described the interconnectedness of grace, gratitude and gifts, and says that gifts are more than just money or health; gifts are all kinds of things, and these gifts do show up and cause our lives to be blessed. We are then called to pass these gifts onto other people. Diana’s example of a gift received could be a smile or nod on a day that we’re feeling bad. That’s a gift, too, she says, and there’s nothing economic about it.
Take a minute and think through this past day. Where were you, who you were with and what happened? Next, try and name one gift that you received that was not material or economic.
Spiritual Practice for This Month:
Throughout November, find a time towards the end of your day to pause for 5 minutes and look back upon your day. What gifts did you receive that day that were not material or economic? When one comes to mind, thank God for that gift and then look for an opportunity the next day to pass that gift onto someone else.