Friday, November 4, 2016

Thankful No Matter What

November 4, 2016 This next Sunday I'll be preaching for a pastor friend, hopefully helping to set the stage for a fall stewardship campaign. When we met a few weeks ago to map out what this might look like, we decided that I would speak on gratitude being the foundation for generosity. I believe that to be true, and since I've been writing for three years about gratitude, it wasn't much of a stretch for me to put together. I finished the sermon yesterday, and one of the main points I wanted to make is that gratitude is not dependent upon our circumstances. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, St. Paul tells us that we should "in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." He turns up the heat even more in Ephesians 5:20 when he tells us not just to be thankful IN everything, but also to "give thanks FOR everything." Apparently Paul was not particularly concerned with coddling our feelings. Preparing a sermon is one thing; preparing oneself is quite another, and God has some interesting ways of doing that. Today, our granddaughter Alex had been offered a ride to Fredonia with some college friends who were on their way to Rochester for the weekend. Since I was already going to be in Fredonia for band rehearsal, I offered to pick her up, take her out to dinner, and bring her home. When I asked Linda to meet us, she jumped at the chance, as I knew she would. It was a nice day, and I wanted Linda to have her car to meet us there, so instead of taking my bass in the car as I usually do, I loaded it into the back of my pickup. But as I was putting the bass into the back of my truck, it got stuck, and when I dislodged it, it dropped about six inches, snapping the neck. I was just about sick, because our concert is Monday night, and I had been looking forward to playing the upright with the jazz band. I wouldn't go so far as to say God caused this mishap. It was my own lack of foresight in how I placed the instrument into the truck. But I do believe God is giving me both the opportunity of practicing what I preach and a ready-made sermon illustration. I'm still working on Paul's word in Ephesians to give thanks for everything, but at least I am able to give thanks in everything. I called the repair shop and learned that it is fixable and even affordable, so tomorrow I'll take it to Amherst, hopefully I'll be able to get a loaner for the weekend, and I do have a killer sermon illustration that has some real credibility.

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