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Blessings Abound, 11/24/19

Good morning … I want to begin by reading part of an article written by Oprah Winfrey:

I live in the space of thankfulness - and I have been rewarded a million times over for it. I started out giving thanks for small things, and the more thankful I became, the more my bounty increased.

Good morning … I want to begin by reading part of an article written by Oprah Winfrey:

I live in the space of thankfulness - and I have been rewarded a million times over for it. I started out giving thanks for small things, and the more thankful I became, the more my bounty increased. That's because what you focus on expands, and when you focus on the goodness in your life, you create more of it. Opportunities, relationships, even money flowed my way when I learned to be grateful no matter what happened in my life.

"Say thank you!" Those words from my friend and mentor Maya Angelou turned my life around. One day about ten years ago, I was sitting in my bathroom with the door closed and the toilet lid down, a booing and a hooing on the phone so uncontrollably that I was incoherent. "Stop it! Stop it right now and say thank you!" Maya chided. "But - you don't understand," I sobbed.

To this day, I can't remember what it was that had me so far gone, which only proves the point Maya was trying to make. "I do understand," she told me. "I want to hear you say it now. Out loud."

”Thank you.'" Tentatively, I repeated it: "Thank you - but what am I saying thank you for?"

"You're saying thank you," Maya said, "because your faith is so strong that you don't doubt that whatever the problem, you'll get through it. You're saying thank you because you know that even in the midst of a storm, there is a rainbow in the clouds. You're saying thank you because you know there's no problem too great for the Creator to handle. So, say thank you!"

Well I did - and still do … every day … many times a day … no matter what is going on. It's not easy being grateful all the time. But now I know it's when I feel least thankful that I am most in need of what gratitude can give me: PERSPECTIVE. The HABIT of gratitude causes me to look at my day differently … with an awareness of every sweet gesture … every small kindness that comes my way. I have discovered for myself that Meister Eckhart was right when he said: "If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is 'thank you', that would suffice."

So, today I want to say thank you to all of YOU! Thank YOU from the bottom of my heart. There is something absolutely magical about this spiritual family. I think it’s the way you care that touches me so deeply. It’s the way you greet people as they walk in the door … your smile … your hug. There’s something very personal about your welcome … and extends to the way you prepare the food for hospitality each week … like we are all guests in your home … like you really “get it” that a small snack or a cup of coffee says, “relax … linger awhile … let’s talk.”

And those Sunday circles! Some sort of yes, JOY happens in them … because of how authentically you share your stories … and lovingly you listen to one another. Yes, magical is the right word to describe the sense of oneness and connection that grows in all our groups and classes. I guess it’s our love of being together … for celebration, prayer, study and play … that is so touching and rewarding for me. Being with you just makes me happy … and so grateful that I answered the mysterious inner call that led me here.

Yeah, I think Oprah’s right. The most wonderful thing about the habit of gratitude … is that it causes us to wake up and notice things we might overlook or take for granted. Love is always streaming toward us, but sometimes we simply forget to pause and pay attention long enough to feel it. May we all feel today what a blessing it is to be an integral part of a community like this … where people care about each other so deeply that they are willing to give their time, talent and treasure week after week … to ensure this church is ready and welcoming whenever we … or any newcomer … comes through the door.

Today is a day to thank … to appreciate … to savor … and celebrate … the gifts of this church and all who make it God's House. It is a time to pause and feel good about what we, together, create here. We may think we are a small church. But when you realize how many other people we 40 or 50 whose hearts have been opened here and whose awareness has grown here … touch in their everyday lives, it doesn’t seem small at all, does it? So please, if there is ever a moment when you're tempted to think you’re not making much of a difference in this world, remember … this church is your creation. It is perhaps the rarest of things … an authentic community. It makes a difference … and your love is building it.

Look around at the faces of the people in this room … and give thanks for each other … all those who are walking beside you … who encourage and support you … who offer their friendship … who listen to you and tell you the truth as they see it. Isn’t it awesome to feel the presence and power of God active through each and every one of us.

This truly is an amazing church. Not grand or pretentious. But a loving spiritual home … a faith family … where we can all come as we are and share from the heart. This church is MY home and you are MY spiritual family … and I am a better person because of it. So I give thanks from the bottom of my heart for each of you and the Power that led Sepp and me here.

So now it’s your turn. What are you particularly grateful for today? How has life blessed you over the past year? SHARING: Betsy, Yvonne & Scott, Cindy, Rebbecca.

I know there’s not time for everyone to share at this moment. So let the conversation continue over lunch. If you’re new here this morning, please know that we’d love to have you stay … have something good to eat … and sit and talk. If there’s anything better than friends gathered around the table for good food and interesting, heart-centered conversation, I really don’t know what it is! Do you?

OK … so maybe it’s beautiful music, especially when it’s offered by a lovely young woman who has grown up in this family. So now, let’s allow Clara to lead us into a time of meditation …

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