Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
It was one of those Sundays when I tried something different. For many pastors, trying something different can fill us with anxiety. What will the congregation think? Will they participate? Or will this go over like a lead balloon?
It was the Sunday before Thanksgiving so I used that as the theme. Normally I ask people to call out things they are thankful for, but for that particular Sunday I did something different. In each bulletin was a sheet of paper and I asked the congregation to write down what they are thankful for, and place them in the offering plates.
The Ushers were instructed to take them and hang them up on the bulletin board in the Fellowship Hall.
And there was a problem. So many people participated that there was not enough room. The Ushers hung them on the board as well as the doors and a few on the walls.
Thanksgiving is an important holiday that, unfortunately often gets overlooked by Christmas. But Thanksgiving, as a holiday, reminds us that thanksgiving, as a way of life, is crucial. Giving God thanks for all of our blessings forces us to stop and think about those blessings. And to see the blessings we often take for granted.
Studies have shown that gratitude makes people happier – people who keep journals or make lists of what they are thankful for are happier, more optimistic, more energetic, and nicer than those who do not. In other studies, those who keep their gratitude lists exercise an average of 90 minutes more a week, sleep better and have less pain. Gratitude actually can retrain our brains – changing neural pathways so that we can better deal with stressful situations, and even helps our hearts be healthier.
As you sit down to your Thanksgiving dinner, take some time to truly look at the many blessings of your lives. And do the same on Friday.