November 21, 2008 | The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner
With Hearts and Hands and VoicesThis time of year, in honor of Thanksgiving, most churches will sing the well known hymn, “Now Thank We All Our God.” The title of the hymn is also the first line of the hymn. Do you know the second line? The second line appears above: “with hearts and hands and voices.” These words name three distinct ways that we can experience and express gratitude.
With Hearts: First and foremost gratitude is an internal orientation of the heart. It is an outlook on life that we can choose to have or not. A person with a thankful heart is grateful for the smallest things: a warm home, an evening out with friends, and relatively good health. The person with an ungrateful heart complains that their warm home is too small, that their friends talk too much, and regularly complain about their latest aches and pains. “An Attitude of Gratitude” is our choice to make, and believe me, it makes all the difference in the lives of those around us.
With Hands: A story is told of some people from a church who stopped to visit an elderly woman who lives alone and was having trouble getting by. At the end of the pleasant visit the church members asked the woman if it would be okay to say a prayer for her before they left. The woman, trying to sound grateful, said, “yes, that would be fine. But what I would really like is if you could wash that stack of dishes in the kitchen sink.” Everyone of us knows someone who needs a helping hand right now. Feeling compassion towards others is not the same as expressing that compassion in loving and grateful acts of kindness.
With Voices: When was the last time you told the people you love how thankful you are for their presence in your life? Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to do just that. Don’t make the mistake of taking for granted that others know what you are thinking and feeling. Basting your closest relationships with expressions of gratitude and love is how we keep them moist and tender. Forgetting to do so runs the risk that they will dry out, become stiff and hard to swallow.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all, and may your hearts, hands and voices be filled with gratitude.
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