WRITTEN BY REV. REBECCA CRAVER |
“You can use anything really to make a gratitude wreath…”
I had the pleasure of attending an event put on in partnership between Bookmarks, INC. and Calvary Moravian Church to hear author and journalist, Denise Kiernan. She was talking about the practice of gratitude and her book(s) that explore the beginning of the federal Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. (We Gather Together, We Gather Together(Young Readers Edition), and Giving Thanks)
She began her talk by sharing and showing us how to make a gratitude wreath—a simple wreath with paper notes, tags, small trinkets and a bow. (Instructions for Gratitude Wreath) All the bits of paper and pieces of memorabilia are symbols of thanksgiving. This simple craft is something you can do with your families over this holiday weekend to see and share the many things you are grateful for this year. I loved that she started with something tangible, because gratitude is tangible in our lives. Practices of gratitude are not flippant statements, but can transform the way we show up in the world and deepen our understanding of God’s action in the world.
What difference, you may ask, does gratitude make?
Throughout the Biblical narrative the stories of people following God’s way highlight acts of thanksgiving. In Psalms, the repetition of thanks for God’s love, presence, guidance and even discipline remind us in these times that there is much to be grateful for because God is with us. In the midst of turmoil we are led by the one who can bring about justice, show us how to care for our neighbors and give us the courage to respond with faith, love and hope in all things.
How can this season of gratitude draw us closer to God and the tangible result of thanksgiving through our generosity of time, presence, and action? There are a multitude of ways to live gratefully. I encourage you to consider how to attend to your own thanksgiving as a regular spiritual practice in your life. These simple practices of gratitude will help us to be present to the sorrows, struggles and pain that are part of life. We are all aware of violence, harm and pain in the world and while gratitude is not the only action we are called to take as people of faith, it is part of our response to God that allows us to embody the compassion and love that has and continues to bring about peace and abundant life for all.
Gratitude is a powerful spiritual practice because it transforms us and opens our eyes to see more clearly the work of God in the world and the ways we can join in the work at Jesus’ side. There cannot be too much gratitude in the world but there is often too little.
Here are some ideas to practice gratitude in your life:
- Each time someone asks how you are, consider answering with something that you are grateful for
- Pay attention to the quiet things people in your family, congregation, workplace or other groups do that contribute positively to you and the community. Write them a thank you note for how their presence is a gift to you.
- Offer prayers of thanksgiving in worship, board meetings, dinner parties and before sleep.
- Start a gratitude journal; list the things you are grateful for and periodically go back to review those thanksgivings.
I am grateful for all the Friend Travelers on this journey of life and faith with me! Thank you!
About the reviewer
As Director of Congregational Development, Rebecca works with congregations and provincial leadership to provide resources and support their ongoing work towards greater health and vitality. She works to cultivate collaborative relationships between and among pastors, congregations, provincial and interprovincial agencies and other partners. Working with communities of faith, her passion for capacity building and innovation have shaped her 15 year career in ordained ministry. She has led communities in reimagining their structures, practices, and traditions as they embrace Jesus’ call, supporting them through organizational change, worship creation, and adult learning curriculum. Rebecca’s evenings and weekends are often spent investing in good conversation over a mocha, making new connections in the community, or delighting in the laughter of her children and spouse. Email Rebecca.
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