This month’s mailing focuses on an appropriate topic for this time of the year—gratitude. It turns out that “being thankful” is more than just a platitude. Genuine gratitude can change an individual’s or a congregation’s life for the better.
This first article from Harvard Health Publishing provides a great overview of the research findings from those who study gratitude from a scientific perspective:
https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier. Although the article focuses on individuals, interim pastors and church leaders can easily extrapolate some of the learnings and apply them to corporate, congregational life.
Christopher Bergland, in an article from Psychology Today, discusses the neuroscience of gratitude and the important link between gratitude and generosity https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201510/small-acts-generosity-and-the-neuroscience-gratitude. According to Bergland, “Gratitude is a fundamental thread that holds the tapestry of our social fabric together. Feelings of gratitude nurture our individual mental health and fortify our bonds with other people.”
This third article is a kind of theological reflection on gratitude and generosity by Elizabeth Grady-Harper, of the Boston faith & Justice Network http://bostonfaithjustice.org/2016/03/07/the-gratitude-generosity-loop/. It begins with a wonderful quote from Sister Joan Chittister: “What if life itself was meant to be one long alleluia moment?”
Finally, this article (http://www.umcom.org/learn/3-ways-to-encourage-gratitude-in-the-church) by Tricia Brown on the United Methodist Church website offers some practical tips and tools for encouraging gratitude in the church (not just Methodist ones!). Her article begins with a quote from Cicero that sums up what I am learning about gratitude: “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”
May this season of thanksgiving be just that for you, your family and the church were you serve or attend. Moreover, may we all experience the blessing of a thankful heart.
Rev. Chris Gambill, Ph.D.,
Director, Center for Congregational Health