It has been a full and demanding week for me. I was at my office until 9 PM and was up this morning at 5 AM. We had a large Thanksgiving feast for over 200 people from our homeless and hungry community last night. Much of my energy has been directed toward attending to our great feast. I don't have anything new, provocative, or insightful to share but I do feel praise bubbling up from all different angles in my life. As I talked about in Bible Study last night at soup kitchen, praising God has a way of rearranging our perspective so that we can see that Christ really does reign and God really is good. As one of my favorites, Meister Eckhart, said "If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough." It is common for me to start the Bible studies I'm leading by asking the group to write down three things they are thankful for. Writing down my gratitude has been a helpful spiritual practice for me. Gratitude is an essential practice of our tradition! So in the spirit of Psalm 148 let me join in with all creation and add a few words of my gratitude.
- This morning I am grateful for the coffee I pour from my french fress into my homemade ceramic mug. I am grateful for the french press, I am grateful for the bark colored mug, and I am especially grateful for the coffee. Praise God!
- For novels that teach me how to put down theological books for just a little bit so I can enjoy good stories. Praise God!
- For brave conversations that choose to risk vulnerability. I feel alive and connected to humanity when this happens. Praise God!
- I am thankful for random dance parties in bars where strangers become friends and friends become closer to me. I always think of Psalm 150 when I'm out dancing. It's the last Psalm of the Bible that calls the people of God to praise God with dancing. Movement to music is so good. Praise God!
- I was given the opportunity to write for Rachel Held Evans yesterday in her "Ask a Reformed Pastor..." Seeing it published I am reminded I am grateful for the education I received at Western Theological Seminary and how I was called to be part of the Reformed tradition at school. Praise God!
- The adventures with my incredible spouse and a commitment to live with curiosity. Praise God!
- For 200+ people that were fed last night, the hymns that were sung during the open mic portion of the evening, and the ways my street friends are constantly talking about God's goodness. Praise God for their faith!
- Dance music, especially my favorite pop musician Lady Gaga (don't be hatin'!) and the singer-songwriter Santigold that has been on repeat in my iPhone all week. Praise God!
- For body art and tatoos and the ability to express oneself on the body. I am thankful for the artists who help me communicate important things permanently on my body. Praise God!
- For the countless ways God shows up, expands what I know about God, confronts, and comforts me. For grace that is the air I breathe. For a God who is love, who loves all, and holds all things together in Christ the one who shows us how to love. Praise be to the faithful lover, our Creator!
What praise springs forth from your lips? What words of gratitude do you want to offer to God this holiday season? The whole world is full of the steadfast love of God; join in with creation's song of praise! Happy holidays to you and yours!