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Love, Worship, Gratitude

‘Tis the start of the season.

A man once asked me if I didn’t think it was romantic to have my significant other say every day that he loved me. To his surprise I told him I didn’t need to hear it every day and as a matter of fact, if I did it would start to feel too routine especially if his actions couldn’t speak loudly enough for him. We overuse the word “love” anyway. (I think I’ve stated that before.) Or maybe better said, we misuse the word. We love disparate things using the same word with the same intensity. And I’d like to think that I love my soulmate more than I love my comfy slippers or in the way that I would “love it” if someone would take my recycling to the outside bin.

Lately, and not for the first or only time, I’ve wondered about what we mean when we worship. Worship is a response of love, right? I’ve seen more clearly pronounced ecstatic responses of worship at the end of Hamilton or a championship game than I do on Sunday morning or any other intentional gathering of worship. I’ve heard words of a hymn sung that have left me confused. “We lift our hands in the sanctuary…” and maybe a few hands are raised. Or songs that have words of reverence “our heads are bowed”, and yet in this culture no one wants to show that kind of vulnerability. And I question myself. I wonder if my worshipful response is really enough to state my case. Is this the best I have to offer? Is it enough to just show up? Do I show appreciation the way I should – the ways that are worthy and honoring?

These questions lead me to ponder my/our notion of gratitude. Here we are a week before Thanksgiving and I will no doubt encounter the rudest people in society before I have a chance to sit down at the family table to give thanks. What does gratitude look like? We say thanks so often (please and thank yous) that we don’t think about it too deeply. What are we really thankful for – I mean in the way that someone who is on the outside looking in already has a clue before they even get to know us well? Do we treasure the goodness in our lives in open and transparent ways? And if we don’t, why not? Are we able to show gratitude for God’s grace by being gracious to others?

One more important tidbit. This Thanksgiving (like every Thanksgiving) will be difficult for a lot of people. Some won’t have a place to go or food to eat. Others will be facing their first Thanksgiving with an empty space at the table where one of their treasures used to sit. Still others will struggle through for various reasons wishing/hoping/longing for forgiveness/reconciliation, understanding/respect, meaning/acceptance, belonging/love and true gratitude. Maybe one way to embody our thanks is to live in ways that acknowledges them.

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