I have several friends who are members of AA and who try to live their lives in “an Attitude of Gratitude.” Gratitude for one more day or year of sobriety, of course, but further with gratitude for the many things in their lives which are better because of sobriety, as well as for all of the good things which come their way.
Living in an attitude of gratitude is not easy in this sad world in which we live. The natural disasters of fire, floods, earthquakes; the human catastrophes of mass shootings, hate crimes and more: these are not occasions of gratitude when we wrestle with the question of why some people survive and why some die. The anger and criminal dysfunction of institutions small and large do not make me give thanks but in fact cause me to struggle against putting my head into the sand.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving Day this week, we step back and think of all of the things for which we are nevertheless grateful. For some of us it is family, even though families can be—shall we say—complicated. For others it is friends, people who are honest with us and who stick with us no matter what comes. For lots of people it is country, even with the exasperation felt by so many these days, because we are thankful for the freedoms we still enjoy as we pray for wisdom to use these blessings for the benefit of all. We offer thanks for the beauty of nature, for the creativity of human beings, for the opportunity to be with people unlike ourselves and to visit places which broaden our understanding of the human community.
I, as well as so many of you, am grateful for Emmanuel Church. For the beauty of the building, for the splendor of the music, for the programs which encourage us to be built bridges to our neighbors. I am most grateful for the people of Emmanuel who come from many places, literally and figuratively, to take part in this diverse and, yes, imperfect community. You bring a commitment and steadfastness to Emmanuel that gives us muscles to move forward to an exciting new chapter in our parish life.
But most of all let us be thankful for God. I speak of the God who loves us unreservedly, who enlivens us with the Spirit, who forgives us, who gives us the strength to reconcile ourselves with those with whom we have been at enmity. The God who dwells with us and who calls each one of us by name.
In an attitude of gratitude, I say “Happy Thanksgiving” to you all.