Gratitude: A Spiritual Practice

Rick Carter

Director for Evangelical Mission

Wendy Davidson

Crossroads Lutheran, Indian Land

Pastor Josh Tucker

Crossroads Lutheran, Indian Land

This past summer we had the opportunity to hear Diana Butler Bass, author of Grateful, in St. Louis. Our expectation of Dr. Bass’ presentation was to discover helpful ways in talking to others about stewardship. Post the conference we concluded that our expectation was not met, but was exceeded in far greater ways. Each of us came away with something unique and personal in our understanding of gratitude. However, there was consensus that gratitude is and should be a way of life. Gratitude as a way of life not only impacts the individual, but also the world in which we live. An attitude of gratitude affects our body, mind, soul and relationships.

To test our theory, we decided to take this learning and put it into practice with a small group in our congregation. The group consisted of individuals who had experienced loss, grief and loneliness. For them, experiencing and expressing gratitude had become a challenge. Using the book “Grateful” as a guide, our learning community committed to study and practice gratitude. Drawing from scripture, prayer, personal journaling, and sharing we became more than a learning community, we became a spiritual community. A spiritual community, grounded in Christ, that discovered personal healing, joy in seeing gratitude in places not experienced before, and a mindfulness to share with others.

In this new year consider the spiritual practice of gratitude. We recommend using “Grateful” as a starting point. You can do the study individually or in a small group. We preferred the small group approach because of the encouragement, support and accountability found in one another. If you choose to work within a group, we suggest always reminding participants that gratitude is personal as well as public. To help facilitate this understanding, creating a group project can be very helpful. For example, our group chose to plan and support a Longest Night service during Advent, with trees of remembrance decorated with blue lights and ornaments from the community. The ornaments were placed on the trees in remembrance of loved ones lost. The worship service was an opportunity to remember, heal and experience gratitude.

Imagine a year of practicing gratitude – it will change you and the world.

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