An Attitude of Gratitude

“It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your loving kindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night.” (Psalm 92:1-2)

During this month of November, it is wonderful that our nation pauses to dedicate one day specifically for THANKSGIVING. Every American president since Abraham Lincoln has made an official Thanksgiving Proclamation on behalf of our nation. On November 22, we all will continue in that tradition and offer thanksgiving to Almighty God for our countless blessings as a nation, a church, as families and as individuals.

Yet let us take care not to think that one day a year is enough to thank God! As Orthodox Christians, we joyfully participate in this national holiday of Thanksgiving, while simultaneously realizing that a follower of Jesus Christ is someone who daily acknowledges with gratitude all the blessings we receive each and every day! Life, love, faith, health, friendships and relationships, along with our challenges, struggles and everything in between are gifts from our loving Father in heaven!

Henri Nouwen, wrote this about thanksgiving: “Gratitude goes beyond the "mine" and "thine" and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift. In the past I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.”

What a profound idea to think of “gratitude” as a discipline, instead of simply as a fleeting emotion that depends on our circumstances. In fact, this way of understanding gratitude goes in line with our Orthodox perspective. Every mature Christian should try to discipline themselves to maintain a true Christ-like spirit - which includes the spirit of gratitude, along with the spirit of joy, the spirit of humility, the spirit of love, the spirit of hope, and the list could go on.

Difficult and disappointing circumstances will tempt us to lose these Christian attitudes, but our spiritual struggle is precisely an effort to constantly turn to God and seek out His Holy Spirit, who will in turn fill us with His fruit of love, joy, peace, hope, and gratitude. Each and every moment of our lives, we have a choice to make - whether to be grateful or to be ungrateful; to see life as a blessing, or to see it as a burden; to notice the hand of God present in our own reality, or to pridefully think that we are our own god and to despairingly think that we are on our own.

This spirit and discipline of thanksgiving goes hand-in-hand with our upcoming STEWARDSHIP SUNDAY. Every November, we chose one Sunday to be the day when we reflect upon the blessings God has given us, and think how we can show our gratitude back God. These gifts include our time, talents, and treasure. Acting as a good steward of God in His Church means we consciously strive to offer a portion of our time, our talents, and our treasure to promote His Gospel!

Please come to Church on November 18, and hand in a Stewardship Card where we all will make a concrete commitment of what we can offer the Church for the glory of God. And remember, Saint Paul says, “God loves a cheerful giver!” We don’t want parishioners to give in a grudging or regretful manner.

This Saints Constantine and Helen community is our Church Family, and each one of you are an integral part of it. Just as each of us want the best for our own families, I’m sure that we all want the best for our Church Family as well! May we all act as faithful and dedicated stewards in our offering of time, service, and money. And as a good steward, try to think about what you offered God this past year, and see how you can increase it in the new year. God is continually increasing His blessings to us, and we in like manner, should try to increase our commitment to Him. Maybe we can volunteer more and commit more time to the Church. Maybe we can use the unique talent or knowledge we have to serve a need in the Church. Maybe we can increase our stewardship financial pledge. In whatever we decide, may we all strive to do it solely for the glory of Almighty God!

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, Presvytera Faith and I want to thank everyone in this community for the blessing you have been to us and our family over the past 14 years. We have truly loved being a part of this special church family, and thank God for His presence and love here.

With joy and gratitude in Christ Jesus,

+Luke

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