Given the practice of the modern church and the culture in which we live, we spend some time giving lip service to the notion of “gratitude” during the month of November. We are encouraged to be grateful for the things that God has entrusted to us. Yet, what exactly does this idea of “gratitude” involve? It is a simple recounting of all the wonderful things that have happened in our lives, or is it something more?
I’ve long believed that simply gathering in the pews to give thanks, or to gather around our tables on the fourth Thursday of November to list our blessings falls well short of what “gratitude” is all about. There needs to be something more. It’s not enough to be appreciative—although being appreciative is a good thing to be. Gratitude needs to be turned into action.
Every day contains an abundance of blessing and joy. These gifts were not meant to be hoarded away; they were meant to be shared and multiplied. How can we best use these gifts to make a positive difference in the lives of others? That, I believe, is the question that “gratitude” prompts us to ask. The ancient rabbi, Hillel the Elder, who lived in the time just before Jesus, posed this question: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?”
We are not here to simply list the goodies we’ve been given but to be the best of our selves and the best of our church for the world around us. And there’s no time for that like the present. May our “gratitude” be an active, dynamic one—not just in this season of the year, but always.
Your servant in Christ,
Rev. Jim Hoppert