Gratitude. There is no habit or attitude more healthy or good for you than gratitude. I was glad for the moisture of the snow on Tuesday afternoon, and grateful that I avoided any accidents on this ice!
I hope that you take time to appreciate the blessings God gives us—life, breath, love, hope, beauty, joy. As I reflect I am especially grateful for the gifts God gives us through First Pres. An amazing staff. Dedicated leaders. A legacy of giving, serving and leading which makes a difference in our community. A stunning place to worship. A friendly, open, generous fellowship of believers. Music ministry, small groups, Nites Out groups, service teams, mission support, financial stability. Amazing! Thank you God! And thank you all. I am particularly thankful for the hard work, wonderful ministry and vision of Pastor Chris. She is a terrific colleague in ministry to me and a great pastor. We are truly blessed.
Next week is a busy week—don’t forget the Faith and Social Justice discussion on Tuesday at 7 in the Sanctuary, the Family Hockey night on Friday and the Annual Meeting on Sunday Feb 26 (and potluck!) at noon!
Here is a prayer of thanksgiving I’ve found helpful, from the Book of Common Prayer:
Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love.
We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side.
We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy and delight us.
We furthermore thank you for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence upon your mercies alone.
Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast obedience, by which he overcame temptation; for his dying, through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom.
Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know him and make him known; and through him, at all times and in all places, may give thanks to you in all things. Amen.
Happy Epiphany! Epiphany is traditionally observed on January 6. We use it to remember the Magi coming to worship the baby Jesus. In many areas people celebrate with special cakes called King Cakes what have a plastic baby toy baked in them. The person who gets the piece with the baby is special. I guess. I love the cake, but don’t really get how a baby in a cake can ever represent something good! Eww. Certainly by January 6 the last thing we all need is more sweets! 😊
But the point of Epiphany is to celebrate the light of Christ coming into the world—to practice recognizing God’s appearances (epiphanies) in our lives. It is a very healthy practice to remember how God has been faithful to you and to repeat those stories to yourself and your friends. Then when times come when God seems absent (and they will), you can be reassured by those memories. Think about a time when you felt God particularly present to you. I had a little epiphany myself on Monday, the day of Epiphany. I was coming home from work and saw the sun setting against the mountains. Amazing! Just like a painting.
I feel like God is often doing remarkable stuff—just creating beauty or joy or peace without drawing attention to it. Our job is to notice. And to praise him for it. Practicing gratitude makes us happier, healthier, and generally more fun to be around. Maybe as you start 2020 you can practice looking for those “God-sightings” and saying thank you for them!
I hope you can join us in worship on Sunday. This week we’ll talk about where everything went wrong—in the world and in each of our lives. And we’ll point ahead to the hope of rescue that God gives us!
Happy New Year! It is exciting to step into a new year, I can’t wait to see what our adventure with Jesus will bring in the coming months. Like anything important in life, intentionality about your relationship with God is key. I want to encourage each of us to set some goals about connecting with God in the new year.
We have provided some suggestions and resources at www.fpcslc.org/exploringjesus . Especially check out the “connecting with God” resources as you consider new habits of prayer and engagement with Scripture in 2020.
If you’d like a daily email (or two, your choice) with prayer and scripture, Redeemer Presbyterian has a good one and you can sign up at https://www.redeemer.com/r/public_discipleship_devotional
Finally, here is a prayer that I’ve found helpful called “A Morning Resolve:”
I will try this day to live a simple, sincere and serene life, repelling promptly every thought of discontent, anxiety, discouragement, impurity, and self-seeking; cultivating cheerfulness, magnanimity, charity, and the habit of holy silence; exercising economy in expenditure, generosity in giving, carefulness in conversation, diligence in appointed service, fidelity to every trust, and a childlike faith in God.
In particular I will try to be faithful in those habits of prayer, work, study, physical exercise, eating, and sleep which I believe the Holy Spirit has shown me to be right.
And as I cannot in my own strength do this, nor even with a hope of success attempt it, I look to thee, O Lord God my Father, in Jesus my Savior, and ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Amen.