I am a columnist for the Danbury News-Times Forum on Faith column. Here is my most recent article:
Christian Science churches are unique in that we hold services worldwide on Thanksgiving Day. The founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, was an American who knew the profound significance of gratitude in our lives. She instituted weekly Wednesday testimony meetings as well, to offer a more frequent occasion for the congregation to express gratitude. She knew that gratitude can make all the difference and is a strong foundation upon which to build.
She wrote statements like the following in her groundbreaking bestseller Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:
“Are we really grateful for the good already received? Then we shall avail ourselves of the blessings we have, and thus be fitted to receive more. Gratitude is much more than a verbal expression of thanks. Action expresses more gratitude than speech.
“Outward worship is not of itself sufficient to express loyal and heartfelt gratitude, since he has said: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
Thanksgiving for Christian Scientists is not merely a seasonal celebration, but a vital daily effort. It is an outlook we cultivate, a trained response to whatever we face, and a mandatory aspect of worshiping God. I can always find something to be grateful for when I understand God as ever-present good; I would be remiss in not doing so.
The dictionary definition of “gratitude” is, “being ready to show appreciation for kindness,” while “thankful” means, “being pleased and relieved.” Recently I have been struck by the fact that we need to truly value something to be grateful enough to take it beyond “a verbal expression of thanks” and put it into action. The dictionary definition of “value” is “the importance or preciousness of something.”
What am I really valuing? When I know that, I’ll know what I’m grateful for and what action I should be taking.
For example, if I actually do value the one almighty God, I will keep the first commandment, not by just tritely saying “thank you God,” but by giving back. I’ll examine whether I’m worshiping anything else as a false god and start honoring God by changing that behavior. I’ll turn to God alone for my fulfillment. I’ll acknowledge God as the source of good all around me, and then endeavor to do whatever I can to contribute to and amplify that good.
In general, valuing something brings opportunities. It is like a magnet attracting more good to you. When we start to genuinely and regularly value what we have as well as those we know, those things and relationships begin to expand and grow. Especially in this challenging economy, it is useful to ask yourself what are you valuing, since that is what you will get more of. Valuing what is around you requires choice and attention, but the rewards exceed the effort.
I now consciously look for things to value in my spouse, my children, my friends, my colleagues and my fellow church members. Funny thing, when you do that, they get more wonderful! When I value every idea for a solution, solutions are found more readily. The more I appreciate my home, the more I care for it and the better it is. As I increasingly notice more of the good God has and is creating all around me, the more there seems to be.
This Thanksgiving, among many other things, I’m grateful for my church. I have blossomed under what it has taught me. Learning the foundational practicality of deep gratitude has been a large part of that. This has been so true for me that I have written this article. Action is a natural outgrowth of sincere gratitude.
May you too, find much to appreciate this Thanksgiving season. I hope you have fun nurturing whatever good is around you, and watching it grow when you put it into action!