Today’s Word from Pastor Jim… 

A few weeks ago, on a cold Spring night, David Roth ended his concert in the safety and warmth of our sanctuary with a song about gratitude. The recurring refrain was “How many ways can I be grateful? How many ways?” It was a fitting way to end a beautiful evening of storytelling and song.

“How many ways can I be grateful? How many ways?”

David’s simple refrain, and the verses that accompanied it, carried a, sometimes forgotten, message of hope. The act of gratefulness moves our minds away from self-absorption, self-aggrandizement, and fear. It is hard to have perspective when one focuses most intently on one’s own navel.

“How many ways can I be grateful? How many ways?”

If we begin each morning by counting our blessings, we can face the day with a more positive attitude. If we end each day by counting blessings, we are more likely to slumber with sweet dreams. We could all benefit from having a gratitude journal to focus our thoughts and adjust our attitudes.

The opposite of a gratitude journal is the 24-hour news cycle. It is a bad news buffet of scandal, crime, violence, and catastrophe. It is a bad news buffet that blows threats out of proportion, and leaves the viewer with bad news indigestion. The 24-hour news cycle incites fear and distorts our perspective. Consequently, we spend far too much time focusing on scarcity, on what is lacking in our lives, on what is wrong with our nation and the world.

“How many ways can I be grateful? How many ways?”

Look around! The world we live in is abundant in beauty, bounty, diversity, and wonder. For those of us living on Whidbey Island, or in Northwest Washington, there has probably never been a period of greater safety and security. I don’t live with a Pollyanna philosophy; my head is not in the sand. I recognize that there are many environmental, economic, and political problems. We have work to do. We can and should be motivated to make a difference.

“How many ways can I be grateful? How many ways?”

Gospel means Good News. That Good News changed the world. Good news can liberate us and motivate us to greater love and service. Bad news can paralyze us, as we hunker down in fear. I simply think that we have underestimated the power of gratefulness. How might our lives, our days, and our nation be different if we gave gratitude the same floor time as fear? Could it be that there is more good news in the world than bad? If we were to construct a balance sheet, listing our blessings on one side and those things that threatened us personally on the other, what would that look like?

Gratitude does not negate real problems, but if we start with gratitude, if we recognize and name our blessings, we are more likely to be pleasant to be around and much more useful to the world God loves.

Blessed to be Blessing! I ask you, “How many ways can I be grateful? How many ways?”

One beggar telling another where to find bread, I am,
Pastor Jim

[[email protected]](mailto:[email protected])