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Dear Friends in Valhalla Parish, 

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
   for his steadfast love endures for ever!

These words from the beginning of Psalm 136 have come to mind several times this week. They've popped up in a variety of things I've been reading, and they've come to mind in the form of a song. 

This has been a week to consider gratitude. It has been a week to consider and to praise the One from whom all blessings flow. This past week, on Thanksgiving in both New Denver and Castlegar, we considered Jesus' invitation—or is it a command?—not to worry. 

In a world such as ours, in a world that often tells us that we are not enough, we sometimes find ourselves worrying more than we ought. We sometimes find ourselves forgetting that we are beloved, and that we were created in and for love. 

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
   for his steadfast love endures for ever!

At this time of year, our minds are often drawn to the bounty of harvest. It is good and right that as the seasons change, we set aside time to give thanks and offer gratitude for the harvest and so much more. To give thanks to God from whom we receive all manner of gifts. From the beginning, God has created a world of beauty. And so we give thanks with our words, and we respond with our bodies. 

A number of years ago, my friend Brian wrote something that I stumbled upon again just a few days ago. I found myself dwelling with them, and I share them with you as companions for your prayer and reflections this week:

In a world secured in God’s steadfast love,
            gratitude is the only faithful response.

In Radical Gratitude, Mary Jo Leddy suggests
            that only such gratitude can liberate us
            from our captivity to an insatiable culture
            of ingratitude and entitlement.
Radical gratitude engenders a spirituality of gift
            in the face of self-made accomplishment.

Radical gratitude is born of an economy of enough
            in the face of the hyperactivity of “more.”

Radical gratitude is rooted in grace,
            while a spirituality of entitlement is decidedly a “works” theology.

Radical gratitude abandons the sullen adolescence of our culture
            and embraces a gregarious openness born of a mature spirituality.

Radical gratitude engenders generosity
            in the face of self-centred accumulation.

We live in a world held in God's steadfast love. And we are people of God's household, participants in sharing such world-changing love. We do not share this love only with members of our parish community, because this is a love that ripples forth from the Eucharistic Feast to the ends of the earth. 

Each time we gather, we participate in the feast of Gratitude. We are fed so that we might feed others. We participate in the life and work of the church so that others might experience the good news of mutual liberation, a liberation rooted in gratitude for God's steadfast and enduring love. This is a love that turns over tables, that sets captives free, that brings healing to those are hurt, and ensures housing and food for one and all.

In light of God's love, and in light of such Gratitude, the world becomes a different place.

It becames a place infused with love. It becomes a place where people give and receive thought-filled care. It becomes a place where people question the inequities in our parish, our town, our province, and nation, and work together towards human flourishing and the common good. 

The gospel is made manifest in our lives and in the life of the world as our gratitude spills over. It starts with our participation in the Great Thanksgiving of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. As we are transformed by this mystery, so too are our relationships—with our selves, with each other, and with God—transformed. 

Our participation in the gospel has both individual and community dimensions. Indeed, our participation in the gospel is a corporate work—the work of Christ's body. And so, as our parish community cultivates practices of gratitude—both as we seek ways in which this transformation has something to do with love of our neighbours and neighbourhood. 

Elsewhere Mary Jo Leddy writes:

perhaps there is only one distinction that matters: those who are learning to love their neighbors and those who remain indifferent to them

I truly believe that we are, and that we can grow as people learning to love our neighbours. If we are seeking to grow in Christ, and to grow as a community, we must reach beyond ourselves in this way. And so, as we journey with Jesus and one another in the days ahead, may we do so rooted in gratitude, and extending God's love to our neighbours and neighbourhoods in Jesus name. 

Every Blessing,

Andrew Stephens-Rennie
Valhalla Parish Missioner