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Today in the Mission Yearbook

Becoming truly thankful


Take the time to tell your story. The act alone can make us more generous children of God

April 19, 2022

Photo by Libby Penner via Unsplash

A common table prayer opens with “O Lord, make us truly thankful for that which we are about to receive …”

It sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? But isn’t there something a little strange about that prayer? I mean, why would anyone pray that way?

“Oh Lord, make us truly thankful …” This little prayer acknowledges that an attitude of gratitude is something that we cannot do for ourselves. We are unable to “make” ourselves “truly thankful,” so we pray for God to make us more thankful than we really are. So, how do we do that? How does a person become “truly thankful”?

Well, one way to help us become “truly thankful” is to remember our story — the story of our lives. We need to recall and speak the story of who we are, where we’ve come from and how we got to be where we are at present.

Now, on the surface, recalling our story seems like the easiest thing we can do. We just tell what happened, just tell what we did and what decisions we made at the time, and why.

But just start to do that, however, and you’ll discover that it’s not as easy as you thought. “Where do I begin to tell the story of my life? What do I tell? What do I not tell? What’s really important?”

This is a time for us to remember and retell our life’s story.

But the problem for most of us is that we live such full and busy lives today that we don’t have much time to remember, do we? Oh, we enjoy little moments of recollection now and then, morsels of memories that connect us to our past and our real identities.

We remember our story when we visit our hometown, or when we return for a class reunion, or when we clean out the garage, sit down for an hour with a photograph album or photos on our phone. But, by and large, our minds are too full; we are too preoccupied with the present to remember even a fraction of the past. We are too busy to recollect all the wonderful things stored — the stories — in our memories. We are so engrossed in the present, so mortgaged to the future that we don’t have time for the past.

But what happens to a people who forget who they were? What happens to us when we don’t make time to remember? What happens when we don’t tell and retell our stories?

Well, we become ungrateful. We forget that we didn’t always live here, in this moment — that we had an existence before the one with which we are struggling now. And so, we must pray, “O Lord, make us truly thankful for that which we are about to receive …”

In the name of Jesus Christ, let me invite you to share your story with those around you. As you sit there at the table, pause for a moment, and try to remember. Remember the people that you have met and loved along the way in your life. Remember all the places that you have lived, from your childhood home to your present surroundings, and tell your story.

You see, in remembering, we become grateful, and when we have an attitude of gratitude, we become generous children of God. Indeed, we are truly thankful.

The Rev. Chris Roseland is the Lead Mission Engagement Advisor for the Presbyterian Mission Agency, serving the Northern region of the United States. This piece was originally published on Where Your Heart Is … A Weekly Offerings Stewardship Blog.

Today’s Focus: Take the time to tell your story

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Cobbie and Dessa Palm,  Mission co-workers serving in the Philippines, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Josh Park, Manager for Korean-Speaking Councils, Office of the General Assembly

Let us pray

O God, our hope is in you, the One who sets the prisoner free, brings justice for the oppressed, and protects the orphan, the sojourner and all who are vulnerable. Invite us into your sacred work and strengthen us in doing it. For we ask it in the name of Christ Jesus. Amen.