• on Friday, November 1, 2019

Cultivate a Grateful Heart

November 1, 2019

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope this note finds you well. I also hope you are planning to join us this Sunday as we begin a new series of messages entitled “We Are Thankful…”

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus offers a prescription for a joyful life: “Look at the birds of the air…Consider the lilies of the field…” In other words, instead of nursing your worries, Jesus invites us to change our focus. Look elsewhere. Look beyond ourselves, beyond self-absorption. Cultivate a grateful heart. I think maybe Jesus was picking up on something he had been taught as a boy from his faith – practice the habit of giving thanks. In the Old Testament book of I Chronicles, chapter 29, we find a prayer that the people of Israel prayed as they gathered to offer their gifts of thanksgiving in the Temple:

Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe…Yours are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty.

It is a model prayer to which the pray-er adds attributes of God. Now, here’s the point. Three thousand years ago, the Jews established a thanksgiving habit that I want to commend to you this month – the practice of trying to say 100 blessings, a day. Imagine that! They tried to offer thanksgiving and praise to God 100 times a day. Now, in order to do that, you would have to start pretty early in the morning:

  • Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe. You have awakened me to a new day, given me air to breathe, and given me another day of life.
  • Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe. You have given me people to love and with whom I share this wonderful gift of life.
  • Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe. You are with me. Even as I go to the doctor’s office for tests, I understand I am not alone. I will not fear.

I can almost hear Jesus praying: “Blessed are you, Lord God, King of the universe. You take care of the birds and the lilies and you take care of us.” Do you have a thanksgiving habit? What would your life be like if you said 100 blessings a day?

There are some who miss it. They come to church, go home, and, then someone asks, “What happened at church today?” They respond, “Nothing much. The music was nice. The sermon was okay.” They don’t see. Fortunately, many do. When asked what happened at church, they say, “It was incredible. Today we baptized twins! When the minister sprinkled water on their heads, I promise you I saw the Holy Spirit alight upon them.“ Or they answer, “Today we celebrated the Sacrament of Holy Communion. When the minister prayed over the bread and wine, she said they had become for us the grace of God. I couldn’t wait to get up there and receive it!” Or they respond, “Today the children sang. I closed my eyes and thought I was listening to the angels in heaven!” And then, because they are tuned into what it looks like, they see God’s blessings everywhere they go.

“Look at the birds of the air… Consider the lilies of the field.” Gratitude leads to a life filled with wonder and joy.

For the next four weeks, we are going to carry that word gratitude with us. And, in our worship, we are going to be specific in our prayers of gratitude. We are thankful…

November 3 | Matthew 5:1-12 | …for All the Saints
November 10 | I Thessalonians 5:12-19 | …in All Circumstances
November 17 | Matthew 8:35-38 | …for the Church
November 24 | Matthew 6:25-34 | …for All God’s Blessings

We begin our series this Sunday with the message “We Are Thankful…for All the Saints.” We will be giving special thanks for those members of Peachtree Road who have preceded us into death within the last year. We will stand in their memory, ring a bell, and light candles, as their names are called. Following the reading of the names, Tom Crawford will play “Going Home” and “Amazing Grace!” on the bagpipes. You will be encouraged to write down the names of your own personal saints and bring them to the altar as we celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Know this: when we partake of the bread and cup, we are celebrating our connection with all the saints through Jesus Christ. This service is one of the most special of the year, and I hope you will be in attendance.

In addition to worship on Sunday morning, let me suggest three more upcoming opportunities to experience a spiritual blessing:

  • Choral Evensong for the Feast of All Saints – you are invited to end All Saints Sunday by joining members of the Chancel Choir and the Georgia Boy Choir in a beautiful service of remembrance at 5:00 pm in the sanctuary.
  • Sunday School Forum with Dr. Tom Long – you are invited to join us on Sunday, November 10, at 10:00 am, in the sanctuary to hear Dr. Tom Long speak about hope in the midst of suffering. Tom is the Bandy Professor Emeritus of Preaching and director of the Early Career Pastoral Leadership Program at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. Last year, he was named to Baylor’s list of the twelve most effective preachers in the English language. He will be sharing with us about finding hope in a world that oftentimes seems hopeless.
  • Veterans Day Luncheon – To honor our veterans, Peachtree Road is sponsoring a luncheon on Monday, November 11, at 11:00 am. We will enjoy good food, warm fellowship, and an inspirational program featuring a message by Jamie Jenkins and music by Amy Little. Please join us as we express our gratitude to those who have served our country. Make your reservation here.

Finally, we are entering the final stage of our fall stewardship emphasis. I am grateful to all who have turned in a pledge card and especially to those who have increased their pledge over last year. Our theme for this year’s campaign is “All In!” and we would like to include your pledge in the total to help the Finance Committee determine our budget for 2020. The easiest way to pledge is through the church’s app or website. Please make your pledge today. Thank you for being “all in” at Peachtree Road!

Finally, I remind you that this Sunday marks the return of Eastern Standard Time. In other words, you will get an extra hour of sleep on Saturday evening. Please set your clocks back one hour Saturday night so you will arrive on time Sunday for a day of worship and remembrance.

I’ll see you Sunday as we practice the thanksgiving habit here at Peachtree Road!


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