For all that has been – Thanks

Dear Friends,

In these trying times, physically separated from one another, unable to participate in common worship, it is very tempting to lose heart and hope. Yet for the sake of our unity in Christ, we must resist this temptation.
I am lately reminded of an incredible prayer by Dag Hammarskjöld, a Swedish diplomat and the second Secretary General of the United Nations, who died at the age of 56 in an airplane crash as he travelled to a warring region of Africa. These stirring words were discovered after his death in his journals (later published under the English title Markings): “For all that has been, THANKS, for all that is to be, YES!”

In this prayer of affirmation and hope, Hammarskjöld points to the essence of our common life in Christ: the offering of gratitude and thanks. We read in the Letter to the Colossians, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” The Apostle Paul writes in the First Letter to the Thessalonians, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Even though tried by the world’s misunderstanding, by hardship, persecution, and martyrdom, our ancestors in faith sought to live in continual thanksgiving to God—in everything! Their firm conviction did not seek to deny the troubles and sorrows of their present suffering. Rather, by the continual offering of thanks, they learned that they could undergo and pass through trials, even blessing the “goodness and loving-kindness” of the God who created and preserved them with the gift of life and being. These faithful men and women humbly affirmed their gratitude for, in the words of the Prayer Book’s “General Thanksgiving,” God’s “immeasurable love in the redemption of the world,” and “for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory” which were theirs in Christ. Their lives of prayer and action were thoroughly “eucharistic” (to use the Greek word for “thanksgiving”): characterized by mutual support and encouragement in their offering of gratitude to God. A eucharistic people, they were ready to say “THANKS” for all that had been, and empowered to say “YES” for all that was to be, in God’s providence.

Like those before us, we now live in a world of individual and corporate pain and loss. And we God’s children are also called – even from in the midst of pandemic and death, economic uncertainty and inequality, social and racial injustice, and destructive climate change – to be a eucharistic people. United in our intense longing to be together, we are joined in one Body by baptism into Christ’s salvific dying and rising. Our prayer and actions of gratitude, even offered in isolation, bring us together as a living sacrament of Christ for the sake of one another and of the world. Through giving thanks in all things, we together partake of Jesus Christ, the Bread of Heaven, at his table set in our hearts. Giving thanks in all things, we are becoming ever more and more a eucharistic people, together.

This week, even in these very trying times, we invite you to lift up your hearts in prayer, giving thanks to God: “For all that has been, THANKS, for all that is to be, YES!”

With gratitude,
Br. Jonathan Maury


  1. Patricia Patten Normile on October 30, 2020 at 15:11

    As I read this beautiful reflection, I looked up at a wooden plaque on the wall that says: thankful. It was a gift given to me by my cousin in memory of my dear Mom who taught all of us to be thankful. We are! Especially for her!
    Thankful also for these words from Br. Jonathan.

  2. Janice Cowen on October 10, 2020 at 00:16

    Thank you for your encouraging letter, as I read it today I was uplifted and reminded to have a grateful and thankful heart. I am so blessed to be living in NZ and have so much to be thankful for. God bless you all. Thank you 😊🙏

  3. Emily Sherwood on October 9, 2020 at 22:33

    Just the words I needed to read tonight. Thank you, Brother Jonathan and thank you, Lord Jesus

  4. Sharon on October 9, 2020 at 21:54

    A wonderful and uplifting reminder to be thankful every moment of every day. Thank you for that.

    • Linda lapham on October 27, 2020 at 18:02

      Thank you Jonathan. I’m trying to get the prayer into myself. It can only do good!! Linda

  5. Marili Reilly on October 9, 2020 at 15:42

    We are sitting at a Kansas rest stop, 70 miles from tonight’s campground and 7 days from our oregon home. The trailer has a flat tire, and we are awaiting roadside assistance. “For all that has been, Thanks!” We were already parked when we discovered the flat, it was not a catastrophic blowout on the freeway, we have an insurance plan that provides help, and we are close enough to a town with a tire store to replace both old tires. God has surely shown us his grace today, and your prayer arrived in my email at just the right moment, as well. Thank you, Br. Jonathan.

  6. Lou Cavaliere on October 9, 2020 at 14:15

    Thanks for reminding me of the three most powerful words in the English language: Please, Sorry, Thanks.

  7. Marilyn Bergen on October 9, 2020 at 14:09

    I thank you for this lovely reflection. The news on NPR just now was reporting how the 2nd wave of Covid -19 seems to be spiking world wide. This gave me pause and then I read this! I have so much to be grateful and especially for you brothers of SSJE. With gratitude, Marilyn

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