November opens a season that invites us to intentionally take the time to reflect on those things for which we are especially grateful. For some of us here at Family, 2015 has been a year where there have been lots of joys, great accomplishments and celebrations. We are grateful for that! For most of us the year has been a mixed bag of joys and sorrows, blessings and challenge, illness, health and healing. We are grateful for that too!
You may be saying, “Wait just a minute pastor! I know I should be grateful for the blessings, but the struggles too. I’m not so sure.” I totally get that. It’s hard to have a heart of gratitude around the hard stuff, especially if we are still in the midst of it. Hear me, I am not trivializing or offering platitudes to your pain. Pain hurts and I do not believe for one minute that God gives us pain or rejoices in it, so why should we. But, what I do know is that when I have been in pain or grief, I’ve been blessed by the love and care of others. I am grateful for that. I’ve grown in my capacity to have empathy and compassion for others. I think I am more sensitive to the hurts, pain and needs of others precisely because of what I’ve gone through. So, yes I am grateful. I am grateful for the pain, sorrows, and brokenness I have experienced. It’s made me a better me.
I know that in this time when there is so much happening in the world with gun violence, war, refugees, and disaster, it’s hard. I am not grateful for the horror, but I am grateful for the outpouring of compassion and love in response to this suffering. I am grateful for the social dialogue as we as a nation and world struggle together to find a better way. I am grateful.
As you move into November and the Holiday Season between Thanksgiving and New Year, I want to encourage you to slow down a bit. Have conversations with your family and friends about gratitude. Listen, encourage and honor one another’s heartfelt concerns, and be grateful for the chance. After all, getting to gather in community and relationship is one of the most amazing gifts we have.
In heartfelt gratitude for all of you,