For this season of thanksgiving, I just want to share some excerpts from a sermon by Rev. Dr. Ron Barnes of Anchorpoint Counseling Ministry. I believe we will find these very helpful and relevant as we go through this season once more in the midst of a pandemic.
- Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. ~ James 1:2-6
“A heart of thanksgiving is a loving heart. A heart often becomes grateful because it has experience in being ungrateful. It has become a grateful heart because it has realized there is much to be grateful for despite life’s trials and difficult times. A heart becomes grateful when it experiences the significance of the Love of Christ. A person develops a deeper appreciation for the life he or she has been given, even amidst difficulty.
A heart of thanksgiving is usually a heart that has been tested. Despite all the challenges a person has experienced, he or she has realized that living gratefully and appreciatively is the high road to travel. Ask someone who has had an organ transplant, who has survived a traumatic accident, who has dealt with tragic loss, who fights chronic pain or chronic illness about having a grateful heart. The challenge of living appreciatively or depreciatively is ever-present. It is present for all of us, but it is more obvious when there are ongoing struggles.
So what keeps us from having a heart of thanksgiving? A lack of an appreciative mind and heart is the obvious answer. But what is creating an ungrateful spirit within us? There are very difficult problems in this world. How are we to have a grateful heart when facing intense problems like a global pandemic? The Christian faith calls us to take the high road even when the low road is closer and more convenient. James challenges all of us about this issue. This scripture in James is a hard one for most of us to understand. It confronts our humanness, our human condition as many scriptures tend to do. James never suggested to his readers that Christianity would be an easy way. The truth is we need this scripture and in reality, we need hearts of thanksgiving.
Hearts of thanksgiving enable us to develop a spiritual perspective. A heart of thanksgiving helps to nurture our spiritual nature which moves us beyond our human nature and human condition. If our heart is not grateful, it is difficult to be a loving heart which we are called by God to have towards our self and others. God’s love is indeed a healing love, and having a spiritual understanding of God’s grace can only lead us to having a grateful heart. May each of us continue to live our lives in full reception of God’s grace and love.”
-Rey Lambatin, Choir Director
Christ the Good Shepherd
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