Martin B. Copenhaver
"O give thanks to [God], for [God] is good; for [God's] steadfast love endures forever." - Psalm 107
Tonight, when young trick-or-treaters come to our door and dip their hands into a big bowl of Butterfinger bars (because they are my favorite and I am hoping for leftovers), the adult accompanying them will almost surely remind them, "Say, 'Thank you.'" And the young voices will echo, "Thank you." It is something of a Halloween litany.
Children need to be reminded to offer thanks because no one is born grateful. Thankfulness does not come naturally to us and sometimes it does not come at all. Rather, thankfulness must be nurtured.
At almost every turn, the authors of the psalms not only invite, but also demand that we offer our thanks to God. They understand the irony that it is by continually offering thanks that we can come to be thankful. And, obviously, children are not the only ones whose thanks need to be prompted.
So, day in and day out, in and out of season, offer thanks, perhaps at first to get the feel of it and then, only in time, because you feel it. Likewise, go to worship to offer thanks to God so that you might be nurtured in the ways of thankfulness. Sometimes words of thanks need to be on our lips before, by some slow and largely imperceptible process, they can take up residence in our hearts. As Millard Fuller once observed, "More people act themselves into a new way of thinking than think themselves into a new way of acting." And so it can be when we offer thanks.
Thank you, God. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Amen
Martin B. Copenhaver is Senior Pastor of Village Church, United Church of Christ, in Wellesley, Massachusetts. A new edition of his book, Living Faith While Holding Doubts has just been published by Pilgrim Press.