October 20, 2022 by Rose Niles
We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 2-3
Gratitude is a vital force in nurturing cultures of generosity. Some time ago I learned (through my faith-based development work) that best practice is thought to be thanking a giver seven times for every gift. Imagine that!
Thank you. Thank YOU. Thanks. Thanks so very much. Thank you again. Thanks for your generosity. We can never thank you enough: thank you.
Wow. Just writing that sequence made me smile. Imagine being on the receiving side of imaginatively conceived and wholeheartedly conveyed lavishly generous thanks-giving.
Our reformed theology of stewardship is rooted in our understanding of the wonderous Grace of God that is unmerited; therefore we respond with an overflow of gratitude. Generosity is rooted in gratitude.
Gratitude itself is a gateway positive emotion, writes Najma Khorrami in a recent edition of Psychology Today. Positive emotion as a general field of study, and gratitude in particular warrant attention. We find that:
- Gratitude helps our brains process other positive emotions, including joy.
- Gratitude helps us savor positive experiences for a longer period of time.
- Gratitude and joy feed off each other or, in other words are symbiotic.
In these troubling times we are experiencing in the world, and in the church, it is comforting to receive the gift of gratitude as a pathway to joy. Finding joy in our ministry of serving the gospel is the gift of God that will keep on giving, and result in an overflow of blessings. I wonder how our stewardship programs would change if we lived into a “seven times” or even “seventy times seven” gratitude challenge?
So, in response to the amazing freely given grace of God, I covenant to practice becoming a better giver of thanks. As a poet I often let poems memorialize my intentions:
Let Us Count the Ways of Gratitude
Pray and pray again thank you
Wake up thank you
Receive gratitude thank you
Stretch to the heavens thank you
Sing, hum, whistle thank you
Exhausted rest thank you
Adventure thank you
Never cease thank you
Preach thank you
Teach thank you
Paint thank you
Create thank you
TikTok thank you
Serve thank you on a plate
In a gift-wrapped box
Stream thank you
Whisper in the narthex thank you
Send secret gratitude mail thank you
Embroider thank you
Fingerpaint thank you
Unfurl banners thank you
Sculpt thank you
Weave thank you
Shout thank you
Listen thank you
Write elegant cursive thank you
Embrace gratitude thank you
Do more than expected thank you
More than required thank you
More than the bare maximum thank you
Like a heated blanket thank you
In a cold room thank you
Even at the edge of the grave Hallelujah thank you
Let gratitude circulate thank you
Seventy times seven thank you
Just like forgiveness thank you
Stand in awe and watch the goodness of God:
Thank You Thank You Thank You Thank You Thank You
I invite you to join me and to invite others in your ministry to look for abundance in ways to thank givers. Creatively add to the list of gratitude possibilities. Expand the poem. Let us know what you find.
Rejoice! Let this practice take hold and sink in and watch as the flow of generosity expands into a realm of joyfulness and surprising delight.
And let us say again: Thank you!
Rev. Dr. Rose Niles is a Ministry Relations Officer serving the Northeast. She most recently served at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary as Development Officer. Her degrees include a Bachelor’s from Harvard Radcliffe University in Comparative World Religion, a Masters of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School and a Doctor of Ministry from New York Theological Seminary working in the area of Immigration Justice Ministries. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.