This month I have been thinking about a theology book I read many years ago that opened my eyes to a new way of perceiving the Christian life. British theologian Geoffrey Wainwright has written a systematic theology titled “Doxology: the Praise of God in Worship, Doctrine and Life” that, as you may expect from the title, looks at all we know about God and all we believe about God through the lens of thanksgiving. “Praise God from whom all blessings flow…” is the opening line of our Doxology we sing in worship weekly. Wainwright asserts that praise is the only gift we can bring to God. And as I read Wainwright’s book I began to wonder, “What would it be like if we viewed our whole lives through this lens of praise and thanksgiving?” I think if we took this idea seriously, we would begin to recognize that there are many more reasons for us to give thanks than we might initially suspect. Here are some that I came up with:
We are grateful to God for our lives: body, mind and spirit. We do not know how many days we are given to live, but we do know that the very breath of life is a gift from God. Even in grief, we give thanks for the blessings of having known another of God’s children, and look forward to the day when we rejoice once again with one another in the eternal presence of God.
We are grateful to God for the gift of time. Sure, some days it feels like “time flies” and other days feel eternal in their length as we wait for an anticipated phone call or news from a surgeon. But the very fact that we can notice such things is a gift. God has given us time in which to grow and change. God has given us time and we can choose how to use it.
We are grateful to God for the world in which we live, and very conscious that too often we take this amazing planet for granted. Today I am thankful for the rain on this gray October morning that makes our hills so green and our rivers so abundant. I am grateful for the variety of food that is good to eat, and for the hands that grow, harvest, and send it to market.
We are grateful to God for our individual gifts and talents, those things that make us unique in this world. What are we doing with those gifts and talents? Are you singing in the choir? Are you teaching someone else the craft or hobby you love? Are you looking for signs that God is encouraging something new in your life – a new opportunity to serve, to assume leadership, or to care for others?
We are grateful to God for communities in which we participate. We are part of families, neighborhoods, cities, states and nations. We are participants in God’s great community, the church. Together, as communities, we can accomplish far more than any of us can by ourselves. We are grateful to God for the resources entrusted to our care, including our finances. It is a joy to be able to give of our abundance to help others. It is a joy to be able to share a portion of what we have been given with our church family, providing for the facilities we enjoy as well as for our worship, study, and community service. November is the time of year when we indicate by our pledges our anticipated financial support for the church for the coming year. These pledges help our ruling elders to set a reasonable budget for the year. Look for an opportunity to submit your pledges in the coming weeks. We can then give praise God that through the participation of each one of us, God provides the support we need to continue to do the work of ministry in this place.
For all these good gifts, the only response we have to give is one of praise. We praise God from whom all blessings flow.