October Minister’s Column

Dear Ones:

Our ministry theme for October is gratitude. On some days I confess I haven’t been so excited about this theme. I’m not sure exactly what to do with it in a sermon. Gratitude seems so simple, so ob-vious. We ought to be thankful for the gift of life. Period. If expressing such thankfulness isn’t a regular part of our day, then we need to make it so. Period. If naming the blessings in our lives isn’t a regular part of our spiritual practice, then we ought to make it so. Period. Simple. Obvious. A 60-second ser-mon, at best.

On other days I’m very excited about this theme for the very same reasons. I’m not sure what to do with it in a sermon. That is, the theme of gratitude is challenging me. It seems so simple, so obvious, but is it? Are we truly thankful for the gift of life, beyond just saying it from time to time? If so, how do we express it? How do we demonstrate it? Sometimes in the evening I pause and look back on the day that has just passed by. All I can remember is a whirlwind of meetings, driving the kids around to vari-ous activities, responding to emails, preparing for events and, if lucky, reading. Through all of it, was I conscious of how deeply thankful I am for the gift of life? Well, not really. Through all of it, did I actu-ally stop to somehow express my gratitude—either to acknowledge it to myself or to actually speak it aloud in the presence of others? Well, on most days, no.

But then I remember that when I have the opportunity to offer a public prayer, I often begin with the words, “Thank You.” Out in public, if I’m the one who is asked to pray at the beginning of an interfaith meeting, I typically invite everyone to take a deep breath. Then I might say, “Precious and Loving God, Spirit of Our Lives: Thank you, thank you, thank you for this opportunity to be together and to do the work of healing our community and healing the world.” Or something like that. It depends on the event. But I typically start with the words “Thank you.”  So, there are days when I’m not in touch with my gratitude. But on other days, I realize I am. And perhaps the question is how to be in touch with it and express it every day, how to make it a truly regular part of my spiritual practice. I’m still working on that.

As many of you know, I love the word “Hallelujah.” It’s an ancient Hebrew word that refers to a cry of thanks, joy and praise or some combination of all three. For the month of October, as I figure out what I want to say about gratitude, I think I’ll just start with “hallelujah.” And see where it leads.


On another note, don’t forget to mark your calendars for our fall congregational meeting, Sunday afternoon, October 21st at 3:00 in the UUS:E sanctuary. We’ll be voting on the most current version of our safe congregation policy and getting an update on our strategic plan. I hope to see you there.

With love,

Rev. Josh