November 22, 2020
Texts: John 10:10b - 16
Title: An Abundant Life: Giving and Thanksgiving
Narrative: This week, Trista invites us to consider our blessings, even in the midst of these difficult times. Noticing the things we often take for granted, (access to running water and working sewer systems, clean clothing that is appropriate for the seasons, healthy food available in our kitchen, being able to walk and stretch and move freely) can help to lift our spirits and remind us of our many, many blessings!
Prayers of the People: In our prayers today, we give thanks for the many ways we live in bountiful times. We give thanks for the harvest that has just finished and for the precious, life-giving rains returning to cleanse and renew Mother Earth and all of her creatures. We give thanks for the blessings great and small, and we remember those who are in need of those things we take for granted every day.
We send blessings to our loved ones, and to those in our community. We ask for courage, wisdom and loving guidance for our leaders, our teachers, our ministers, and our church family. We pray blessings upon them and upon the community in which we are dwelling. We invite guidance in the midst of all that is transitioning in our community today. We pray for justice and equity and compassion to abound in our communities at large. And we pray for the renewal and healing for the whole of Creation – the plants and animals and human people alike – who are all a part of God’s beautiful earth.
We give thanks for all of this, in Jesus’ name, amen.
Scripture for Today:
John 10:10b-16 (NRSV)
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So, there will be one flock, one shepherd.
An Abundant Life: Giving and Thanksgiving
by Trista Wynne, Assistant Pastor and Director of Ministries
We are incredibly blessed! The precious rains have arrived once more, bringing cleansing to our air, suppression to the wildfires, verdancy to the grasses and release to the leaves of vibrant hues that have decorated our hillsides and backyards for several weeks. The Common Good Garden has been harvested and cleaned, prepared for a winter crop of garlic, kale, chard, and onions. The hoses are rolled up and stored for the winter. We even have a new group of raised beds constructed by our community, thanks to a special grant shared with us from Dr. Sandra Hernandez who leads the Doulas Latinas Nutrition and Education program in our area.
As I was in Mexico, honoring the tradition of the Nahua people, who welcome and close the rainy season with incredible ceremonies of love and devotion, I was meditating one morning and giving thanks for you all. Jesus’ words came to me:
“I have come that they might have life
and have it to the fullest measure.” (John 10:10)
In that moment, as I considered all that we have been through in this year, I felt the strength of those words. Abundant life! Life to the fullest measure! Ever since the experience I shared with you in my last letter, I have been noticing the details of life with a heightened awareness. The vitality and fecundity of all of creation seems to be sparkling nearly everywhere I turn my attention. I give thanks for the gift of this life, and that I am alive to enjoy it!
I give thanks for you!
How can we walk through life as though we were in a daze, when all of creation is so incredibly alive?!
And yet, so many of us do.
We can watch the time slip through the cracks in these days, barely engage with our neighbors, let alone deeply within ourselves, and simply yearn for the time when we can “get back to normal again”. We can feel the sting of the words, “stay safe, stay home,” and let our brows furrow in frustration. Yet, our initial response need not be our continued response. What might the Spirit be stirring in us today?
The most effective way to move out of our funk in these strange times is to give thanks. Fostering a daily practice of gratitude, of thanksgiving, helps us to rise above the current of despair so very prevalent in our society today. Give thanks for all of your blessings. Give thanks for your fingers. Give thanks for your eyes. Give thanks for the stomach that allows you to digest.
Start small and work your way up. Soon, perspectives shift. Then, suddenly we are waking up aware of the sparkling nature of life once more.
We give thanks so that we can fully give back to our Beloved Creator all that we have been given. We give thanks and we find ourselves living more fully, more intimately aware of the abundance of life – this precious gift. When we give thanks for the little gifts of life, we become more aware of the precious gift of this day.
One breath, one day at a time, we breathe in grace and we breathe out gratitude.
And then we are living once more – fully connected to an abundant life.
“I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly.”