Thanksgiving Leads Us to Joy

The Rt. Rev. Craig Loya

Thanksgiving Leads Us to Joy

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

For many years now, one of my spiritual practices has been to write at least one thank you note every day. I do this in order to remind myself, in the midst of all the demands and pressures of daily life, that every moment, and every encounter, is a pure gift from God. I know that practicing gratitude grounds me in an awareness of God’s constant love and care. As a pastor, I also know that gratitude is contagious and good for the soul, so I always try (though I often fail) to lead from that place. 

As followers of Jesus, gratitude is our primary spiritual posture. It’s no accident that the principle act of Christian worship, the Holy Eucharist, means simply “thanksgiving” in Greek. Our lives as disciples is a constant act of thanking God for God’s loving faithfulness to us. 

This week, as the pandemic deals us another collective loss by disrupting cherished Thanksgiving traditions, it would be easy to forgo gratitude and indulge the very real invitation to despair. But, dear ones, do not take that bait. As I found myself preaching a few weeks ago: nothing that confronts is more powerful than the love that enfolds. 

Even in darkest night, the light of God’s love shines. Look for those small points of light: the embrace of a child, the hand that reaches out to hold yours, a phone call with an old friend, the bounty of God’s creation at your table, the beauty of the sunrise I’m watching as I write this. 

As David Steindl-Rost reminds us in this wonderful TED Talk, it’s not that joy results in gratitude, it’s that gratitude results in joy. While my heart breaks at all we have lost and continue to lose, joy grows up even through those cracks as I give thanks for the gift I have been given in each one of you. 

The Right Reverend Craig Loya
X Bishop
Episcopal Church in Minnesota