Overflowing thanks

A postcard from the 12th Sunday after Pentecost 08/15/21

This photo is actually from a few weeks ago when I was videoing the Prayers of the People and the Roll Call of the Martyrs at St. Paul’s in Selma for the 2021 Celebration of Jonathan Daniels.

Giving thanks to God at all times for everything may be one of the hardest parts of life as a Christian.

Just in the past 18 months, I must confess many times that I felt the opposite of thankful about what is going on. Our reading from Ephesians continues to challenge us to consider how our lives should be made new in Christ. [Ephesians 5:15-20]

Thanksgiving plays a big part. At the heart of our weekly worship is the Eucharist, which is comes from the Greek and means thanksgiving. We pattern our worship life together around the act of thanksgiving. In the Eucharist we offer to God ourselves, our money, and the fruits of our labor (bread and wine). Through the power of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God, all of that is sanctified.

So maybe in the times where we can’t quite be thankful, we can start at the very beginning by offering the feeling, the situation, the thing, the whatever to God. Here is where Ephesians call to “sing psalms and hymns” is really helpful. When we can’t find the words to offer thanks, we can find the melody in the songs of praise of the community of God. One of my favorites is “Come Though Fount of Every Blessing,” and the opening stanza speaks to this very practice: “Come thou fount of every blessing / Tune my heart to sing thy grace.”

What hymn (psalm, poem, passage) do you carry with you?


A sermon from the Church of the Messiah in Heflin:

This is my annual Jonathan Daniels sermon. You can watch the 2021 virtual Jonathan Daniels Celebration here.

Audio only available here


Coming next

Next week, we finish up our journey through Ephesians, and move to the Book of James, which challenges the belief that faith is something that should be kept private and challenges a culture that sees very little value in religion at all.

  • August 22 – St. Paul’s, Greensboro / “Teamwear” Eph. 6:10-20
  • August 29 – Holy Spirit, Alabaster / “Just Do It” James 1:17-27
  • September 5 – St. Barnabas, Roanoke / “Body and Soul” James 2:1-17
  • September 12 – Messiah, Heflin / “Taming the Tongue” James 3:1-12
  • September 19 – Messiah Heflin / “The Good Life” James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a
  • September 25 – Off the Road / “Powerful Prayer” James 5:13-20

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