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Individual gratefulness is a disposition that can be chosen and cultivated in a way that manifests itself as actions, where each choice leads to more gratitude and a spiral of appreciation. So too, communal gratefulness and joy as we celebrate together, can also manifest itself as actions. Once you have empathy for others and a…
Gratitude is social. It takes us outside of ourselves. What do you do when something good has happened to you? You tell others! You go home and tell your family, pick up the phone to call a friend, or post on social media. And they celebrate with you. We do that every week at prayer time as we share our joys with one another. And if it is a big milestone, we mark it with a party or a public ceremony. (Mark 14:22-25, Acts 2:43-47)
District Superintendent Rev. Blake Busick was our guest preacher for our service as we celebrated paying off our mortgage and being debt-free. The discipleship journey begins with being called, then we grow and are equipped and then we are sent to tell others. (Matthew 4:18-22, 28:16-20)
The emotions of gratitude sneak up on us as an unplanned response. But what happens if you are the one who is not overwhelmed with gratefulness. How do we experience gratitude when our feelings are elusive? Perhaps the answer lies in defining gratitude as not just what we feel, but also as what we say and do. Then those actions and habits and practices of gratefulness can begin to change us. (Psalm 95:1-2, Luke 17:11-19)
Who likes writing thank-you notes? Who finds it a chore? How often do you give a gift and not receive a thank you note? As I write this sermon, I have just remembered a note that I intended to write this week and failed to do. There is a disconnect sometimes between the gratitude we feel and how we act. (Psalm 136:1-9,26, James 1:17)
Our giving expresses what we love. It is a declaration of our hearts. God doesn’t require our generosity. But when we truly accept the generous gift of God’s love, our only possible response is to live and give generously. (John 3:16-17, 2 Corinthians 8:2)
Today we are exploring our bucket list for the church; our hopes and our visions for the upcoming year. Bishop Schnase wrote two books that our leaders and maybe you have studied, “Five Practices for Fruitful Congregations” and “Five Practices for Fruitful Living” – this series is about the last practice, Extravagant Generosity; but I want to talk a moment about the other four practices and the dreams that I have. (Joel 2:28, Matthew 6:33, Colossians 3:1)
In the Shema and in Jesus’ teaching there is a clear expectation that the way we express our love for God is by loving one another. This focus on loving relationship is at the root of the scriptural values of our faith. This is a clear expectation of our faith. Our relationships are matters of the heart. How do we express that love? (Deuteronomy 6:3-6, John 13:34-35)
To check for signs of heart disease, doctors use a procedure called an electrocardiogram or an EKG. It’s a test that records the electrical activity of your heart through small electrode patches attached to your skin. As we do not have an EKG monitor here, can you find your heartbeat? Did you all find a pulse? I know you are all alive, so it is there somewhere! But if we checked our spiritual pulse, what would we find? (1 Timothy 6:17-19)
“Sticks and stones may hurt bones, but names will never hurt me?” How true do you find this old expression? Do our words matter? There is a proverb that compares our words to honeycomb, “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” And the apostle James gives us some wisdom about how we should guard our words. The words that we speak and hear feed us and can be life-giving or life-destroying. (Proverbs 16:24, James 3:1-12)