1 Thessalonians 1: 2-5 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly because of your faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.
Philippians 4:4-7 Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Jesus Christ.
Both readings are from the letters of St. Paul. He opens his letters with thanksgiving and rejoicing and he closes them with thanksgiving and rejoicing. He rejoices in what God has done. He rejoices in salvation. He gives thanks for the work of the spirit. He gives thanks for the church people and the ministry they are doing for Christ. Paul teaches, he encourages, he diagnoses, he blasts, he charms, he rants, he sings powerfully and poetically about what a Christian life can be. But Paul always thanks people and he always thanks God.
We live way too quickly. We race to meetings, blast horns, prioritize and multitask. Very few of us write thank you notes. Few of us slow down enough to see the blessings of our lives, or God’s presence in them.
Do you remember how much fun it was when you were a kid and drew a grid on your hand to play tic-tac-toe in class? Remember drawing a face on your fisted hand, where the mouth was the space between your thumb and first knuckle? Try something fun as you go through your day tomorrow. Make a little ink mark on your hand every time you see God’s presence, a kindness or a blessing (ok if you don’t want to write on your hand, use a 3×5 index card).
At the end of the day look at the marks and remember what happened. Would it be good to write a thank you note to a person? Do it. Would it be good to say thank you to God?
Prayer from an 11th Century English prayer book
God be in my head and my understanding,
God be in my eyes and in my looking,
God be in my mouth and in my speaking,
God be in my heart and in my thinking,
God be at my end and in my departing. Amen
Note: The prayer exercise is taken from the book, Unbinding Your Heart, by Martha Grace Reese.