by Pat Russell
“The Practice of Gratitude” – Psalm 118:1-7, 27-29
Pastor Bruce encouraged us to establish or continue our practice of gratitude. If someone were to ask you to describe how you practice gratitude, what would you say? What activities bring on the feeling of gratitude within you? How is your awareness of God increased at those times, if it is? Read the Martin Luther quote again (NOV_24SCRIPTURE_NOTES). Write a prayer of gratitude for the “one preacher I love better than any other.”
Read Psalm 118: 17, 27-29 or 1 Chronicles 16:8-36 out loud, by yourself, with a loud voice! Read it with feeling; let your mind get caught up in the words. Pick a phrase that you like from either one of these passages and make it your “song” for a day, like “His love endures forever!” or “Remember the wonderful works he has done.”
On Jan Johnson’s website https://janjohnson.org/wisbits/ she lists these “gratitude cues” (as Pastor Bruce called them) to helps us “fully notice and even celebrate the good things that happen in our lives:”
Where did I see beauty? Or hear it in music or nature sounds?
Who did I see behave unselfishly or courageously?
To whom did I show love?
What good ideas came to me?
What task did I finish and feel good about taking care of my responsibilities?
When did I laugh?
When did I see something that definitely made God smile?
How did I experience the overwhelming goodness of God?
Pastor Bruce would add, “What do you like about you?”
“It might be a good idea to ask ourselves how we develop our capacity to choose for joy. Maybe we could spend a moment at the end of each day and decide to remember that day – whatever may have happened – as a day to be grateful for. In so doing we increase our heart’s capacity to choose for joy. And as our hearts become more joyful, we will become, without any special effort, a source of joy for others. Just as sadness begets sadness, so joy begets joy.”
(Henri Nouwen) Pastor Bruce encouraged us to try this practice. “Several scientific studies have shown that people who practice gratitude right before bedtime sleep better more soundly and more deeply.” (Diana Butler Bass) Take a whole month to engage in this practice as best you can. At the end of the month, take some time alone to think about any changes you experienced within yourself or with others.
I was driving to church this Sunday, wondering if I had everything in order for the children’s class. I struggle with “being enough.” The Lord seemed to speak to me at the corner of Deerfield and 86. “Pat, there is more than enough grace in my house.” My heart flooded with gratitude. What story of unexpected gratitude do you have? (email@example.com)