Kingsfold Methodist Church
Musings From The Manse
An attitude of gratitude
October sees that seasonal change into autumn. In the annual pattern of church worship this is the season in which we celebrate Harvest Festival. We are invited to give thanks for fruits of the earth and produce of human creativity. Being thankful is one of the marks of Christian spirituality and discipleship.
The German Domincan theologian and Christian mystic, Meister Eckhart (1260-1327) is quoted as saying: ‘If the only prayer you say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.’
Gratitude is a good basic spiritual stance and can help us see our lives and God’s world in a more positive light. When a child makes some noise during a church service, for example, we could tut and maybe complain to a church steward later; or, we could offer a silent prayer of thanks that there is a child in our congregation in times when we see fewer children and young people in traditional churches. When a Pastoral Visitor or Lay Pastoral Worker comes to see us at home or in hospital we could moan to them that the Minister has not been; or, we could bask in the warmth of a church that expresses God’s love and care through each and every member to each and every member.
I walked 600kms this summer in pilgrimage on one of the Spanish ‘Camino de Santiago’ routes to the cathedral where St James’ remains are said to be held. I spent a day walking with Sandra, from Austria, and Alexandra, from Portugal. Sandra had received the news that her grandmother was very poorly (indeed her grandmother died and Sandra left before reaching Santiago). Despite walking with increasing sadness and anxiety Sandra found moments of joy each day. We rock climbed together over a cave entrance on a beach and she laughed with other pilgrims over lunch. Alexandra told me that she was walking the Camino as a thanksgiving. She is getting married in October and her pilgrimage was in gratitude for her husband to be. Sandra and Alexandra may have something to teach us, something worth our own contemplation and practice – in the midst of family tragedy, moments of joy; genuine thanks for what is to come – both, of course, making their way to church (albeit walking for several weeks to get there).
Offering thanks to God is the true thing to do. In our prayerful approach to Holy Communion, at the beginning of the prayer known as ‘The Thanksgiving,’ we proclaim together: ‘It is right to give our thanks and praise.’ Then we move to recall God’s creative, redemptive, saving, pentecostal story and activity before gathering at the table in deepest gratitude for just a little torn piece of bread and a small cup of grape-juice-wine and all that this represents and means for us and all creation all the time.
Saying “thank you” to another human being is a way of honouring and valuing them for who they are and what they’ve done. Just as when someone thanks us and we receive it there is a sense of worth within. So, as Minister, let me say to each and every reader of this article: “Thank you for being a part of Kingsfold Methodist Church.” And allow me to challenge each and every one of us to choose more grateful living as we seek increasingly to become the people God invites us to be.
‘… give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.’ (1 Thessalonians 5v.28)