From Pastor Lamb
In the season of Lent my mind goes to practice. By practice, I mean the things people do over and over so that they are ready when the need arises to do that which they have been practicing. For instance, when preparing for the Olympic Games, athletes will spend years practicing their sport and participating in other competitions so that when the time comes their bodies, minds, and emotions will be ready to compete at the high level demanded by the Olympics. Another example: I remember Alison and I attending childbirth classes before our oldest daughter, Lindsay, was born. Alison learned how to breathe while birthing her child, I learned how to coach her, and we both learned tricks to help us focus on the task when things got especially painful or exciting. Like athletes we practiced over and over again so to be prepared for the anticipated event. Still another example: while working in the mining industry I would join my fellow workers every week in a “safety talk.” This practice, along with an annual day-long safety meeting, would serve to remind us of different hazardous conditions and how to navigate them safely. Each year we practiced first aid skills and resuscitation techniques. This practice allowed us to develop safe work habits and to be prepared to respond to unusual hazards and accidents.
The church is big and practices. We often call them disciplines, or spiritual disciplines. In Lent the traditional disciplines have been prayer, fasting, and giving. I would like to suggest another: thanksgiving. But I would like us to stretch the practice of thanksgiving beyond Lent into every season of the year, because, I believe, it is a fundamentally important response to life. The life, ministry, teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ reveals to us that the breath and heart beat that we are given by God every moment of every day will continue forever, beyond the breakdown and death of our present bodies. Upon that foundational gift, the rest of our lives are built. Every spark of talent and seed of ambition comes from God. Every word or hand of encouragement and support comes from God. Every hope and joy can be traced to the hand and heart of God. To give thanks for all of this seems right and good.
However, it also seems that we are not, by natural inclination, a thanks-giving people. We often take for granted that we have breath and life, that people should be kind and supportive, and that we have access to the necessities of life. We become so used to having more than enough that we forget to give thanks. When that happens, we can easily slip into feeling that God does not provide, at least not enough to make us happy.
How do we avoid this? By practicing thanksgiving. As we practice looking around and into our lives and taking stock of all the gifts we’ve been given – the big ones, the small ones, the everyday ones, and the once in a lifetime ones – we become better at giving thanks and at being grateful. And a grateful heart is a far more fulfilled and joyful heart than a heart that notices most that which we think we lack. A grateful heart looks at life and others differently, more graciously, more humbly, more wondrously, more hopefully.
What are some practices of thanksgiving? The time-tested ones include:
- saying a prayer of thanks before eating meals (or even snacks)
- saying prayers of thanks before you go to sleep or when you awake
- saying silent thank yous when you experience gifts of support or friendship or opportunity
- worshipping regularly, even when you don’t feel like it (maybe especially when you don’t feel like it) so that you can give thanks to God through your presence and participation in the community he gave us to shape our lives
- worshipping regularly so that you can experience the meal to which he invites us, the meal sometimes called the Eucharist (the thanksgiving), the meal God provides and Jesus hosts so that we may be forgiven and made whole, and so Jesus can be remembered.
This Lent, I am giving thanks for much, including you.
Your brother in Christ,
HOLY WEEK SCHEDULE
March 25, PALM SUNDAY – Worship at 10 AM starting with the procession with palms as we reflect on the celebration that greeted Jesus as he entered Jerusalem days before his arrest
March 29, MAUNDY THURSDAY – Worship at 7 PM remembering the last supper Jesus ate with his disciples. Bread and wine, readings and prayer around tables in fellowship hall, followed by the stripping of the altar and chancel. (Part 1 of the three-part worship service.)
March 30, GOOD FRIDAY – Worship at 7 PM with readings and candles, silence and song as we remember the suffering and death of Jesus. (Part 2 of the three-part worship service.)
April 1, EASTER – Worship at 10 AM with Alleluias and anthems and amens sprinkled with shouts of “He is risen! He is risen indeed!” (Part 3 of the three-part worship service.)