A Congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.

  

Worship
From The Pastor’s Desk

Rev. Kyle D. Woodrow

What are you thankful for?

Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” —Denis Waitley

“How happy are you these days and what are you thankful for?” These were the two questions posed to me once in the midst of certain trials and tribulations I had been facing. To be honest, the questions caught me a bit off-guard. How could someone ask me these things knowing I was consumed with a certain guilt, grief and sorrow? Yet, I knew they were questions asked in love and with a specific purpose in mind.

Sometimes in the midst of all that we face in this life – things of our own doing and circumstances that are beyond our control, we forget to consider all the things we have to be thankful for and what happiness we can find. What my friend was trying to remind me of in asking these questions is the vital link between happiness and thankfulness.

One reason we lose enthusiasm in life is because we become ungrateful. We let what was once a miracle become common to us. We get so accustomed to God’s goodness it becomes a routine. When things don’t go according to “plan”, or when we mess up, we easily get down, frustrated, even cynical losing any sense of gratitude.

But as John Henry Jowett explains, “Life without thankfulness is devoid of love and passion. Hope without thankfulness is lacking in fine perception. Faith without thankfulness lacks strength and fortitude. Every virtue divorced from thankfulness is maimed and limps along the spiritual road.” Therefore, being thankful is the way to keep from despair and certainly a way towards greater happiness and a life filled with purpose.

It is not always the extraordinary that we should be thankful for, but also the ordinary – our thankfulness lies in the simple things that we take for granted including the people around us at times. One of the deep lessons I have been learning is something Albert Schweitzer once wrote, “At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”

Our challenge then is truly to live “every minute with love, grace and gratitude” for all the many ways God has sustained us through good and hard times, for all the people who have helped rekindle the spark into a flame within us, and for amazing opportunities we have every day to find happiness. In doing this, I found the answers to my friend’s questions. But what do those question look like for you? What do they look like for our church?

It is no secret that St. Jacob’s is in a time of transition. Change is never easy, but it can be a time for reflection and renewal. The challenge is to hold on to what is essential and consider what we can do to transform unavoidable change into opportunity and growth. Gratitude is the key and we have much to be thankful for especially that in the midst of everything we face in this life and the life to come, God is faithful and we are loved.

As a way of expressing our gratitude and living into what it means to have a thankful heart, the morning service on November 11 will be a special “Thanksgiving” service whereby we not only give thanks for those who have sacrificed among us, but also where we offer gifts of praise, thanksgiving and consecrate our pledge offerings in response to God’s generosity towards us as we experience the happiness found in love, grace and gratitude. May our generosity reflect our gratitude and our commitments be a sign of our hope and faith in the future God has planned for us as a church.

How happy are you these days and what are you thankful for?

With you on the Journey,

Pastor Kyle