Be Thankful? Be Grateful? Be Helpful!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, November 23, 2014

THANKS filled with both thanks and giving

Be Thankful? Be Grateful? Be Helpful!

Thanksgiving! Yes, that was the focus of the Sunday morning worship service at our church today.

Giving thanks was an important part of the service. For a scripture passage this morning, I used the readings for Thanksgiving, instead of this particular Sunday, Christ the King Sunday. Yes, it was the last Sunday of the liturgical year. True! However, I had a strong feeling to preach from the Thanksgiving Gospel reading today. From Luke 17, the narrative of the Ten Lepers.

Sure, this particular reading could be viewed from any one of a number of ways. However, I took the view of thankfulness. Ten lepers asked for pity. Mercy. Healing. And—only one returned to give thanks. (The ex-leper was even a Samaritan, not a Jew.)

Yes, I did bring up the other nine ex-lepers, briefly. But, I did not allow us to get bogged down in what might have been, or what flights of imagination easily could have come up with. It also might have devolved into, “Coulda, woulda, shoulda.” I did not want that to happen.

Instead, I discussed the one ex-leper who did come back. As soon as he noticed his healing, he came back to the Rabbi Jesus, like a shot. Thanked Jesus! Praised God! And—Jesus commended him, even though he was a Samaritan. (Gee, he must have been doubly marginalized, being a leper and a Samaritan.)

I lifted this thankful, grateful ex-leper up as an example for all those in the congregation. I asked, “What are you—any of you—thankful for? Grateful for? I gave a few examples from the church’s life, and then went out into the congregation. Asked for personal examples. Personal incidents. Testimonies! We certainly shared some significant situations today. We all saw how much God was continuing to bless, and give God’s gifts to one and all. We all saw how great God’s love is toward us.

So—are we thankful, today? How about grateful? God opens doors too numerous for me to even imagine. We can be grateful and thankful for so much. One last way? We can help each other, too. That can show others how much we feel, too. How about you?

@chaplaineliza

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Day One–A Snowy Day

A Year of Being Kind blog post – Wednesday, January 1, 2014

snowy landscape

Day One – A Snowy Day

When I woke up this gray morning, I saw snow. Light, fluffy snow. A brisk, chilly day. I brushed off the car and got ready to leave. As I drove to my friend’s house, I observed the beauty of the parkway along McCormick Road. White, almost pristine. Faint sparkles caught my eye as I looked at the snowy landscape. I thought of my fresh, new year, spread out before me. Like a wide, snowy expanse that hasn’t been walked on yet.

Since this is New Year’s Day, a holiday, my car was one of the very few cars on the road. Strange to be out after eight o’clock in the morning in suburban Chicago and to see the streets almost deserted. I could have just stayed home too, but I chose to be out and about. One of my friends had asked me to take her on several errands this morning. It was so good to see her! We had a wonderful time together. And, I was very glad to be of service, be available for my friend.

As a matter of course, I often focus on acts of service from time to time during any particular week. But 2014 is slightly different. I will be intentionally pursuing (looking for?) acts of service for each day. That’s every day this year. Moreover, I am choosing a verse from the Bible to use as a background for each month of service in 2014. Another way of thinking about my choice of verse is as subtext to my month’s service, as well as for my month’s blogs. For January, the verse I have chosen is Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.”

I’ve planned each month to focus on a different aspect of service. I wanted to concentrate on being kind this month. (As long as my blog is titled “A Year of Being Kind,” I did wish to start the year in that way.)  I’ve been told a number of times that I often act in a naturally kind and tenderhearted manner. When the idea for this whole concept came to me earlier in December, I felt that it was so natural for me! Helping one of my friends was natural, too. A joy, in fact.

I don’t want this year of service to devolve into “shoulds” and “obligations.” That’s the last thing I want, to be forced to do something simply because I said I would. I have a feeling I will need to be reminded about this, but that’s okay. (I hereby give anyone the permission to remind me, whenever I gripe.) I want this Year of Being Kind to be a year of opportunity for me. I have asked God-as-I-understand-God for opportunities to help others and be of service, but also to be gifted with opportunities for me. For my personal growth and development, too.

Yes, it will be a journey. A daunting, exciting, up-and-down journey. Will you come along with me? I have no idea what lies ahead. Oh, right. A year of service!