Up and Down
November is the month when nature sends us gifts from above. I typically look to the skies this time of year expecting to see the lovely flutter fall of autumn leaves. Alas, this past week’s gifts from above have mostly been in the form of snowflakes instead!
While nature provides from the top down, in November human beings are compelled to offer gifts that rise from the bottom up. November is a month for gratitude. Our offerings of thanksgiving, gratitude, and praise are meant to glorify God, encourage others, and lift our own spirits as well.
Even though the American Thanksgiving holiday is still four weeks away, Elmhurst CRC has adopted a church-wide practice of leaning into gratitude for the month of November. I believe that the engine of the spiritual life is designed to run on the fuel of gratitude. A month is not too long to rehearse this essential part of the Christian life.
Here a few things to look for in Sunday worship in the month ahead:
- “All In” with gratitude: This week’s worship services will be a conclusion the “All In” series of the last couple of months and offer the opportunity to declare we’re all in with God’s agenda in a symbolic, prayerful way at the close of worship.
- Gratitude works horizontally as well as vertically: It honors God when we give thanks for the people he has put in our life; not just for what they do for us, but for who God has made them to be — their character and gifts. Writing a simple, personal “thank you” note can be a powerful tool of encouragement for the Holy Spirit to use.
- The process of Thanksgiving: Reaching a place of gratitude can be an arduous journey. At least half of the Psalms begin with a protest, complaint, or frustrated prayer laid out before God. These Psalms are called “laments.” It is honest and real to put our pain, personal failures, and observations of the world’s injustices into God’s hands. Naming reality with unflinching honesty allows the Holy Spirit open access to these tough places. When the Spirit is there, things begin to change. When things begin to change, hope can blossom. This is the process of gratitude and might be a needed road for you to travel.
- Gratitude Trees: Our lobby will be home to a grove of “Gratitude Trees” on November 17 and 24. These trees will be full of leaves and pine cones that offer a scalable variety of ways to help out some local families, to send gift packs to our friends at the Louisiana Penitentiary at Angola, and to support for Lampstand Ministries locally and World ReNew globally. It’s a fun and tangible way to share and a great experience to include with a kid or grandkid.
Gratitude month is a time to give glory to God, encourage others, and feel our own spirits rise as well. If those three things are happening in your life, it can snow all month and we can still be content, knowing that heartfelt thanksgiving brings vitality, energy, and joy to our days.
I pray these gifts for you and yours —