A congregation of the United Church of Canada
“Your list of gratitudes should probably be endless.”
Autumn has always been my favourite season. I like the temperature as the chill starts to enter the air, and jeans, and hoodies, and hats re-enter my wardrobe. I love the colours that explode in the trees and bushes. And I like the sense of renewal that I sense in the world.
I know, that sounds opposite to what many folks associate with renewal – Spring – Easter. But for me it’s Autumn. Autumn feels more like a fresh start than Spring does to me – and it feels like more of a new year than New Year’s. Maybe that’s because school starts after a long summer holiday, and both as a student and then as a teacher for many years, I embodied that rhythm.
Even churches have that sense of rhythm as September holds ‘back to church’, or for Faith United ‘September Startup’ Sundays. Ours happened a couple of weeks ago and it truly felt like a restart – especially after a too long pandemic interruption of our rhythms. It was a glorious day with food, and fun, and lots of kids around, and a real sense of joy permeating through the day. This week some of our facility renters are returning, and some new ones are starting, and the parking lot has more cars in it day to day than it has in a few years. These are all hopeful and encouraging signs of energy and life in our community of faith. Hallelujah!
As I drove into the parking lot on Tuesday morning, and I saw many cars for the second day in a row, the word that floated into my consciousness was ‘gratitude’. It didn’t have far to float, because I was already thinking about gratitude as I commuted in and noticed more and more trees changing hue and creating dazzling landscapes. Each season reveals different aspects of the wonder of Creation, and I particularly love the revelations of Fall. I was also gratefully reflecting on this coming Thanksgiving weekend when we’ll get to be with our kids and our extended family. And one of my colleagues has an interview this week, and another colleague has recovered from Covid, and a big piece of work that I have been doing for our Region is about to be finished – all these things together have added to the gratitude.
Obviously, we’ll be thinking together about gratitude when we gather on Sunday for Thanksgiving worship. When you’re faced with the classic question, “What are you grateful for?” I imagine you’ll start with the usual suspects – friends, family, health, blessings – all the classics. Then, I hope you’ll go another step deeper – maybe not at the feasting table, maybe in your own prayer time. I invite you to get granular – get down into the nitty gritty – get down into really personal and specific things. Your list of gratitudes should probably be endless.
‘Non-religious’ folks gather at Thanksgiving and send their gratitude out into the universe. I kinda like that. Mine goes to the same place. The only difference is I give the universe a name, and sense that it has a personality and a character, and that that character is Love. For that, I am truly grateful!