Seventh-Day Adventist Church

Auburn Seventh-day Adventist Church Auburn, CA


Pastor Mel's Blog
  • Subscribe to RSS

Return to Blog

A Ritual of Gratitude: Saying Thank You for Graces Received

Once a year our roads and airports get inundated with people trying to get home for Thanksgiving.  Then suddenly, on Thanksgiving Day itself, the thoroughfares are emptied out.  We find these same people gathered in living rooms, around dinner tables, and with their loved ones.  Family traditions take over, as we find ourselves expressing through words and simple bodily presence, our gratefulness for being connected with people we love, and with the larger universe filled with the goodness and the beauty of God.  Every year we remind ourselves that we are ever recipients of grace from people and from God—and that most (if not all) of it we don’t deserve.

Imagine the absence of gratitude for a few moments.  What would a person look like who is devoid of the attitude of gratitude?  I'm the least bit interested in caricatures.  But perhaps we would see an individual who is belligerently entitled.  To this person the world is a gift-free-zone.  In place of gifts are rights well deserved.   Everything one has one deserves because one worked hard to get it.  And whatever else one could not get with one’s own hands, one deserves to get from others’ hands.  

Ingratitude begets ingratitude.  Worse, ingratitude kills kindness.  If we don’t intentionally create rituals and events to express our gratefulness to one another, we may end up with a situation similar to this true story.  Halfway through his grueling internship, a psychiatrist-in-training complained to his supervisor about their patients: “No one ever says thank you for anything I try to do.”  The supervisor-psychiatrist answered, “If they could say thank you, how many of them do you think would be in a psychiatric hospital?”  

I don’t want to end up in a psychiatric hospital, do you?  Thanksgiving Day is exactly a week from today.  At Auburn Church, Thanksgiving comes this Sabbath.  We are including as part of our worship gathering, a Ritual of Gratitude—that is, an open-microphone, impromptu time and place to say “Thank You” to people and to God for graces received.  Express it freely and succinctly to give time to as many as possible.