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Thinking the Faith, Praying the Faith, Living the Faith is written by the PC(USA) Office of Theology and Worship.

Thinking, praying, and living the faith is at the core of ministry in the Office of Theology and Worship. In the following videos, learn more about what thinking, praying, and living the faith means to the leadership of the Office of Theology and Worship. Discover why it matters and what difference it makes in our lives, work, and worship.  

Charles Wiley  
Barry Ensign-George
David Gambrell
Christine Hong 
Karen Russell

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November 25, 2013

Thoughts on Gratefulness

‘Tis the season for gratitude.  I see Facebook friends listing things for which they are grateful, and I feel a tug of guilt.  I should be grateful for all the gifts God gives to me.  When leading worship, I “introduce” the time of offering by reminding folks that all we are, all we have, all we will ever be comes to us only as a gift from God.  So why don’t I spend the month telling the world the things for which I am grateful?  Don’t I want to be a person full of gratitude, perceived as truly grateful for the gifts that are my life?

Yes, I do.

Disclaimer:  I in no way mean this to be critical of those that post gratitude updates on social media. I enjoy reading them (especially the funny ones). But gratitude for me is bound up in things that can’t be expressed in a Facebook status or a hashtagged tweet.  I’m not good at offering up quick answers when folks are gathered ‘round the table and tell each other the things for which we give thanks.  Truly, I AM grateful for the gifts of my life – a place to live, a job I like, a family I love, just to name a few – but my appreciation of these things is inextricably bound up in the reality of mistakes and sorrow that brought me to this place.  My love for my family sits on the same shelf in my heart as my regret and pining for the family that is no more due to medical surprises and fear that overcomes everything else.  My love for my job is balanced by regrets of the years I wasted not being where I belonged. 

One doesn’t cancel out the other – the losses don’t outweigh the gifts.  But they balance each other in a way that makes them more precious and creates a depth of gratitude that makes me stutter when someone asks me to name something for which I’m grateful.  That balance also reminds me from whence this gratitude springs.  My gratitude is for the unearned, undeserved knowledge that I am a child of God, whose relentless love turned my mistakes and losses on their head and urges me to remember who I am.

What truly and wholly fills me with gratitude is the grace that has redeemed the mistakes I’ve made and allowed me to be this person in this place in spite of rather than because of myself.  I am very grateful that God didn’t like me just the way I was but instead pushed and pulled me toward something better.  A better that’s infused with hope – for me and for the world. 

 So on Thursday, as we gather at the table to give thanks, I will be filled with gratefulness.  Even if I don’t say anything. 

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