First Presbyterian Church – Cedar Rapids

November 2017

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 118:24,29

Throughout the Psalms you will find a wide range of human emotions, from sadness to rage, from wonder to joy; but throughout those texts and woven in the spaces between, there is a thread of gratitude that is present. Even in the midst of dire circumstance the Psalmist remembers God’s faithfulness, looks for God’s provision, and anticipates God’s rescue. Here gratitude functions more as a choice, or an intention.

Brother David Steindl-Rast suggests, “ You can’t be grateful for war in a given situation, or violence, or domestic violence, or sickness, things like that. There are many things for which you cannot be grateful. But in every moment, you can be grateful.” This is life lived in gratitude as an orientation, a choice to alight our eyes on something positive, not erasing or ignoring pain, but recognizing that the pain is not the only thing.

The Biblical witness roots the heart of gratitude in the recognition of God as the author of creation, Christ as the source of new life, and the Spirit’s sustaining presence. It is a recognition, as the Apostle Paul writes, that God is for us, calling us and claiming us as God’s own. And choice to live in gratitude allows us to release the gifts trapped within our hardest moments, opens us to wonder, and helps us to find joy in the simplest moments of our days.

May we move into this month of thanksgiving, orienting ourselves to God’s good presence in the world, opening our hearts to the gifts that God would give.

Grace & peace.


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