We gather each weekend to be strengthened in Word and Eucharist for the week ahead. (Eucharist is a Greek word that means ‘thanksgiving.’) Today’s readings challenge us to be Disciples with grateful hearts for God’s healing presence and for all God’s good gifts. I would not want to be part of the group of nine (lepers) that did not give thanks—but I want to be like the one who returned to Him.
We all can make varied lists of things for which to be grateful: lists as varied as we are ourselves. As a musician, I am grateful for the generous people of this Parish who had decided to grace their worship, and worship space with fine instruments to support their singing in worship. Every time I hear the incredible sound of the lovely organ and the wonderful piano that I am privileged to play in the course of my work, I have the sense that a little piece of heaven has come to earth. That is what liturgy is about though, isn’t it? We experience a sense of the eternal banquet in heaven in the form of the Eucharist, and in worship and praise in the Body of Christ. In our Church’s worship tradition it is no wonder, not surprising that the organ is considered the king of instruments and the piano is queen!
The Church, as a universal Church, feeds all people who come to the table. Not every person is touched or inspired by the same things. Even in our differences we are all made in the image and likeness of God. There are many mansions, and I like to think that each room for worship in God’s mansion has a different instrument in it! The Scriptures talk of cymbals, drums, lyres (harps), strings, flutes and trumpets. The modern Church includes these and all other keyboards, guitars, wind instruments, etc. in praise of God.
Maybe some help for living in gratitude would be to keep this in mind: If you awoke this morn with more health than illness you are more blessed than the million who will die this week. If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation you are ahead of 500 million people in the world. If you can attend a church without the fear of harassment, arrest, torture or death you are more blessed than 3 billion people. If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep you are richer than 75% of the other people of this world (or the people of Puerto Rico and Florida). If you have money in the bank, your wallet, or spare change in a dish someplace you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy. If you can read this message you are more blessed than 2 billion people who cannot read at all. If you can hold someone’s hand, hug them or even touch them on the shoulder you are blessed because you can offer God’s healing touch. If you can hold up your head with a smile on your face and be truly thankful that you are blessed because the majority can, but most do not.
This week instead of expecting or asking for something of God as you pray, maybe try prayers of gratitude and appreciation instead. In place of worrying about getting, go with giving, and see how your life changes. In gratitude for all the gifts our God has lavished upon us we are called to gift back—to make use of our time, talent and treasure for the building of the Kingdom here, on earth. Today’s Psalm (#98) celebrates God’s love for us: His wondrous deeds, victory, kindness and faithfulness toward us. The Psalm calls us to “Sing joyfully to the Lord—break into song; sing praise!” Show your gratitude today like the Samaritan in the Gospel story by lifting up your voice to God in song, and by witnessing an every-day attitude of gratitude! So count your blessings.
JUST A NOTE: It is not (and never) too late to join a ministry. If you enjoy singing or you play an instrument, please see me about getting involved in our St. Aidan Music Ministry. I am looking for all voice parts (children, men and women) and a variety of instrumentalists for our various ensembles. Come and see me after any mass, or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A couple of songs about giving thanks and being grateful.