Give Thanks, Always and Everywhere
Gratitude never goes out of style. Often, the most joyful people are also the most grateful. They find a way to be grateful, regardless of their circumstances. Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk who has lived through a world war and the fascist takeover of his country, has found that gratefulness is essential to joyfulness. Gratitude is woven into the witness of Scripture, even in the unlikeliest of places. Thanksgiving makes countless appearances in the words of the prophets, the psalms and the witness of the early church. We may not be able to give thanks for everything that life hands us, but we can be grateful in every circumstance. Listen to the Feb 25 sermon, “Practice Gratitude.”
Paul and Timothy, pastors and prisoners, write back to a church that they have founded and give thanks to God for their work and witness. They write that they are grateful for the gift that the church has sent, but they are even more grateful that the gospel message continues to spread by their imprisonment. Paul and Timothy identify as slaves of Christ Jesus and partners in ministry with the church in Philippi. Far from being ashamed of his chains, Paul writes that he is a slave of a slave, that he humbles himself because Jesus humbled himself, “taking the form of a slave” (Philippians 2:7). Paul gives thanks because he has found perfect freedom, which is service to God. Gratitude and joyfulness allow us to share in the mind of Christ by focusing not on ourselves but on others.
If Paul and Timothy can sing hymns of praise to God and write letters of encouragement from the inside of a prison cell, then we can learn to be grateful in all circumstances. Paul models grateful and constant prayer for the church in the hopes that they can discern what really matters through love, knowledge and insight. Paul continues to instruct us in filling our prayers with gratitude. When you saturate your life with prayer, your every word and action will overflow with love. So what are you grateful for right here, right now? In happiness and heartache, we can always give thanks. Gratitude is a constant companion. And joy always follows close behind!
Pastor Matt Potter