Musings from the Manse – September

What’s the magic word?
As a child I remember my mum and dad and grandparents constantly reminding me, by asking the above question, to say please and thank you. We often hear people say that young people today have no manners but we are part of this ‘mannerless’ society and it makes me wonder if we are all part of the problem. If we were to think in an average day how many times we say please and thank you and to who do we say it, I wonder what the answer would be. It seems to me we often take things for granted.

Twelve months ago just as we were saying our goodbyes in Liverpool and packing to move here I wrote in my first musing reflecting on Paul’s words ‘Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, giving thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.’[1 Thessalonians 5.16-18].

So let’s take the Paul test;
When was the last time you thanked someone for just being who they are?
When was the last time you gave God thanks for sending Jesus into our world.
When was the last time you said thank you for water from the tap, your home, the wind and rain, your bed, a knife and fork, your TV, your heating at home etc.
When was the last time you thanked God for your bin collectors, for your Local Authority, your bank, your electricity provider, your insurers, your local shop, your church etc.

So often we find ourselves complaining about things and not being thankful. I suppose if we were to add up each day how many times we had grumbled or moaned against how many expressions of gratitude, it would be an interesting to see whether we are thankful people. And yet we sing Come you thankful people come’ at harvest, we have prayers of thanks and adoration each Sunday but saying words and living our lives in thankfulness can often be two different things.

I read some time ago about a successful business man who remembered the influence one of his teachers had on him so he wrote to thank her. He received a letter back saying “You’ll never know how much your letter meant. I’m 83 and living alone. My friends and family are all gone. I taught in school for 53 years and yours is the first thank you I’ve ever had from a student. Sometimes I wonder what I did with my life. I will read and reread your letter until the day I die.” The business man said that ironically this teacher was the one that past students talked most about at class reunions but nobody had ever told her.

And not long after I arrived here one of our members stopped in church for a few minutes after service and then when coming out told me they had stopped behind to give God thanks for sending me here. You can imagine how blessed I felt.

At this harvest time in our busy, self-centred world we need to remember those who make a difference in our lives and give thanks to them and to God.

So let us ‘Give thanks in everything.’
Your friend and servant
Alan

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