In this Thanksgiving sermon, preached in 2009, Br. Mark Brown turns traditional thoughts about gratitude around, suggesting it has a surprising and unorthodox source (one worth giving thanks for in itself).
“It is right, and a good and joyful thing always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.” Familiar words from the Eucharistic Prayer, the Great Thanksgiving. It is, indeed, always good to give thanks; it is good to give thanks always. And we who are blessed in so many ways have much to be thankful for.
I heard Elie Wiesel speak once in a synagogue near Chicago. I remember him saying that gratitude is the most human sentiment. He didn’t elaborate, but his words stuck with me. Gratitude is the most human sentiment. I think what he meant was that when we are in a state of gratitude, we are most fully alive in our humanity. That such fullness of life and humanity is possible for us is yet more cause for thanksgiving. We might pause to give thanks for the gift of gratitude itself, that we are capable of a sentiment so right and good and true. Give thanks that we have the capacity to be thankful!
Now, all things right, good and true have their origins in the heart of God. If gratitude is the fullness of our humanity, and if we are made in the image and likeness of God, gratitude itself must have its origins in the heart of God. Just as our love has its source in the being of God, so must our gratitude. Our feeble thanksgiving must be but a pale reflection of something infinitely richer and more powerful in the being of God.
Please indulge me in a little theological speculation. What I’m going to say cannot be found in scripture or the creeds. But it stands to reason and it rings true in my ears:
If gratitude has its ultimate source in the being of God, God must be grateful. If God is grateful, God must be grateful for something. So then, for what is God grateful? For whom is God grateful?
For you. For who you are. For the kindness you do. For the generosity you lavish on others. For your patience and forebearance. For the myriad ways you embody God’s love. God is love; and when we love, we embody, we incarnate God’s very essence. Though we love so imperfectly, when we do, God’s very essence has become manifest in this world. This is cause for great rejoicing and thanksgiving. Our thanksgiving and God’s.
Streams of mercy, streams of loving-kindness, streams of thanksgiving and the Divine Gratitude from the throne to you.
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