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Rector’s Reflections: The Practice of Gratitude

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Such a full and beautiful Holy Week gives ample opportunity to practice gratitude! Let me start by expressing my deep thanks to everyone who helped make our worship and fellowship experiences so wonderful—from the Altar Guild who tirelessly prepared for no less than eight services between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday; to those who helped create sumptuous feasts for the Bishop’s visit and Maundy Thursday; to the many musicians and artists who lent their creative talents to unique, inspiring, and moving liturgies; to the ministers, lay and ordained, who helped lead those liturgies in word and actions; and to each one of you who attended and participated in these holy commemorations of our Lord’s passion and resurrection. Thank you!

In my sermon on Easter Morning, I quoted author Brene Brown (Ph.D., LMSW), whose book, Daring Greatly, we studied last year. One of the most profound concepts I value from this book is the “practice of gratitude” as a means for “softening into joy . . . build[ing] resilience and cultivat[ing] hope.” Dr. Brown learned this lesson from the many, many people who have shared their stories of sorrow and pain with her over the years. Their advice to her was simple: “Don’t take what you have for granted—celebrate it.”

Every Sunday, we “celebrate” Eucharist—which literally means thanksgiving—and yet, sometimes we go forth into the world, guarding our hearts against vulnerability, against the fear of tragedy, and so we neglect to notice all the reasons for celebration during the week. Based on her conversations with those who have deeply experienced loss, Brene encourages us: “Don’t squander joy!” What if every small moment was a moment of “Eucharist” for us?

Just for this week, try to be really, truly present for small moments of joy: the smile of a stranger, the laughter of a friend, the support of leaders, the beauty of nature. And celebrate them! Fully lean into and experience them, just in that moment.  Pray a soft, “Amen” and “alleluia.” Then your whole week will be made of momentary Eucharistic “feasts,” and you will return to the table on Sunday morning with a heart that is full and open, offering it to God.

I offer you such vulnerability, such hopefulness this week from a full and open heart.
In our Risen Lord,
Mother Joyce 

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