Asbury United Methodist Church
Love - Share - Tell - Serve

November 21, 2017

Well, the race is on! A guy in my neighborhood put a Christmas tree up night before last and it’s now winking at me as his lights begin a gyration of blinking that I suspect will roll on until well after Christmas.

          To be honest, I felt a tiny bit sad.  I love Christmas and all, but the guy next door to him still has his haybale out on the front lawn with his fall motif of two little scarecrow kids smiling!

          They are lit up too.  And, I am not quite ready to tell them goodbye!

          I guess the real reason that I am kind of sad is because I am not ready to let go of Thanksgiving before we even get there.   The Black Friday business will be on us soon enough.

          So, why not decide today to squeeze every drop of Thanksgiving out of this week before turning the corner on Christmas? And, today is a good day to realize that even though much sorrow may be present in life, there is still much room for thankfulness.

          Once upon a time, there was a woman by the name of Naomi. She was married to a man named Elimelech and she had two sons, Mahlon and Killion.

Unfortunately, her life took a turn for the worse. She found herself widowed and not long after, she lost both her sons as well. Naomi was devastated; and, she told her daughter-in-law Ruth not to call her Naomi any longer. Instead, call her Mara, which means bitter (Ruth 1:20).

Time would march on and before things were all said and done, it would be revealed to Naomi that she did in fact, have much for which to be thankful. She had a daughter-in-law by the name of Ruth who would remain loyal to her and assure that her needs were provided for the rest of her life.

          Gratitude is an odd thing. For some reason, it seems to come more readily when we are surprised by joy. The brilliant color of the leaves this time of year reminds me of the incredible healing power of nature and the changing of the seasons.

There are trees on my street that are shockingly radiant…even still!  I took notice of the leaves yesterday, all-the-while uttering a silent prayer of thanksgiving for the gift of nature.

          But, gratitude can be an odd concept to hold on to. It seems that it does not take long for a blessing to become commonplace; and, soon we are prone to ignore it altogether.

(Electricity is one example. My friends in Florida found out the hard way after Hurricane Irma that the power company had been their best friend all along. Just sayin’!)

In short, we can lose our capacity for surprise and delight. At this point, we can head down the slippery slope of focusing upon what we do not have and what we have not been given.

          God seems to understand that we need periodic wakeup calls and they come to us in varied and sundry means. In Naomi’s case, the marriage of Boaz to Ruth produced a child by the name of Obed who would reconnect her to family, renew her life and sustain her (Ruth 4:15).

The lineage would then be in place for King David to be born.  Once again, we spot the biblical motif of how a child often leads one home.           

Far too often, we become bitter over the hand that life has dealt us. Far too often we feel that we have experienced so much sorrow in life, there is no longer anything for which to be grateful.

Too often, we are prone to put gratitude in the future, reasoning that at some other point in time we may be healed and things will finally straighten out. Then we can be grateful then!

But, why put off joy until later? Even in our acknowledgement of sorrow, isn’t it possible to lay our claim to gratitude, realizing that gratitude is our path out of darkness?

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