I grew up watching the movie White Christmas every year. And I remember well Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney singing about falling asleep counting your blessings instead of sheep. It’s not a bad way to fall asleep, of course. But lists of good things have a way of becoming overwhelming or even falling apart. What I have learned to do instead is think about why I believe I have been blessed and what I can do with the overwhelming sense of gratefulness life gives me. I am blessed most fundamentally because that is what God does; God is in the making blessed business. And God has made each of us and blessed us with life and love and faith and … well, there’s the beginning of that list again. My point is this: we are each blessed because God is God. There is so much in this world and in our lives to be grateful for. There are more blessings than we can count. And we could sit up all night with Bing and Rosemary counting our blessings and not put a dent in the list.
Sometimes rather than counting my blessings, it seems to me to be very good and right to get up out of bed and give blessings out myself. If God is in the making blessed business, then God’s people are to be in that business, too! We sometimes call this “ministry,” but really it’s probably better to just live it out in every thing we do and who we are; it’s better to always live in gratefulness. I know many families will gather around the table on Thanksgiving Day and let each person say one thing they are grateful for. This can be lovely, of course. But let me suggest a twist this year. Ask everyone at your Thanksgiving table to say one thing they are going to do for others out of their gratefulness for life.
One of the richest blessings of a church community is the many ways we come together to live out the gratefulness we feel for life and for our loving God; what joy there is in all the ways we live out our grate fulness in action and love for one another, our community, and God’s world. We worship together around the Eucharistic table, the altar, the thanksgiving table. (Remember Eucharist is just the Greek word for Thanksgiving.) We offer our voices in singing and reading and praying -- and our hearts and souls as well. And when one of us is sick, we help out. When someone in the community needs help, we try to be there for them. When the world aches, we, the grateful Body of Christ, reach out with healing. And just as there is really no end to our gratefulness, there is no end to the work of life to make the whole creation groan with gratefulness. What gift of yourself will you offer to others and to God as we celebrate the day of giving thanks, knowing that it is not about just one day, but about a way of being alive?
The Very Rev. Gary Barker