Greetings to the Sarah Jane Johnson Church community of faith,

            According to Paul Andrew, “much of the research on happiness can be boiled down to one main prescription: give thanks. It increases positive emotions, reduces the risk of depression, heightens relationships, and increases resilience.”  Knowing this brings to mind the words of 1 Thessalonians 5:18, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  This verse is clear – God wants us to offer gratitude – always.  No exceptions.

It’s easy to thank God during those times that feel good, those situations that bring immediate satisfaction .  It’s easy to offer prayers filled with thankfulness when the answer is “yes” and we get what we want, what we’ve been asking for. But – do we thank God when the answer is not what we wanted?  When the answer is “no”.  It’s not so easy to lift a hearty “Thank You, God!” when things aren’t going our way. 

During times of trial and suffering, the last thing we are driven to do is be grateful for anything – let alone the hardship itself – yet that is exactly what we are called to do. Some have even suggested that only those of us who live in faith and hope can truly be thankful in all circumstances because it is through the lens of faith and hope that we see how everything and anything can be changed for good.  In our hope, we can see that there are better options.  In our faith, we know those options will be made real, by the power of God.

A colleague, Sharon Seyfarth Garner, wrote this prayer in an effort to incorporate the losses we are feeling this year with the spirit of gratitude that comes with great faith.

A Thanksgiving Prayer for 2020

Gracious God, this Thanksgiving
we gather full of both gratitude and grief.

We are grateful for the food on our table
and grieve the empty chairs around it.

We are grateful for technology that connects us
and grieve the loss of a simple human touch.

We are grateful for seasons of abundant harvest
and understand that fields must sometimes lie fallow.

We humbly ask that you feed our hungering hearts,
weary spirits and beleaguered bodies

with generous helpings of your sacred strength,
extravagant love and radical resilience.

Thank you, O God, for this gift of life
and the privilege of living it.