Gratitude (November Newsletter)

         I love the transitional seasons. With its bright newness and warmth, spring never disappoints. And there’s something just as exciting about the way autumn scolds the dog days of summer and sends them slinking under the porch. The fragrances, the bold colors, and the cold sting in the air evoke fresh visions of hospitality and community. It’s time to squirrel away things we need for the winter. Most of all we need each other’s presence, each other’s warmth.

         The changes of autumn also alter the rhythms of daily life. The days shorten. We take a little longer to dress in layers. We have to walk the dog earlier to walk in the light. Deeper into fall, toward the winter solstice, we start burning fires in the fireplace for warmth and atmosphere. We sit by the fire with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate or hot tea. When seeing our breath on an icy morning, there’s something quickening about the steamy reminder that we’re alive, but something foreshadowing about how quickly that little mist disappears.

         While these earthly realities offer great beauty and pleasure, the changing of seasons also reminds us of our mortality. Through faithful transformations from one season to the next, our lives ebb and flow, and evolve.

         When we are young, changes mean greater strength, mobility, freedom, and possibility. As we age, the changes mean less flexibility, waning strength, more aches, pains, and uncertainty. As our minds and hearts change, however, wisdom also makes us aware of the extraordinary potential within our limitations. When we get past the lamentations of what we is lost, the autumn of life gifts us with deeper and clearer vision of who we are and what is possible as human beings.

         To me, then, the season of Thanksgiving celebrates more than our nation. As followers of Jesus, Thanksgiving – Gratitude– is a way of life. Like prayer, it’s a spiritual posture before God. When things fall apart around us and within us, God’s creative holiness and forgiving love continue unhindered. Our understanding of those gifts may change, but God’s faithfulness never wavers.

         In yet another year in which the Creation has experienced overwhelming change and challenge, let’s remember that while we may not have been personally hit by the violence of mass shootings, hate crimes, war, or devastating natural disasters, we are called to pray for and be present to those who have. Jesus empowers us to live differently, with greater compassion and a deeper commitment to justice and peace. Through the unlikely likes of us, God can return a sense of purpose and hope to broken lives and makes them thankful, once again. Our lives, then, become proclamations of the promise that nothing at all in heaven or on earth can “separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Peace,

Allen

*To read sermons, newsletters, and other posts from earlier years, please visit: https://pastorallentn.blogspot.com.

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