St. Charles and Dover United Methodist Church
Sunday, December 16, 2018
Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors.

Pastor's Reflection


In a resource from the Conference called “Vine and the Branches”, the following poem was reprinted. This is so appropriate as we enter November, a month with an American holiday set aside to give thanks.

“Waken in Me a Sense of Joy” by Ted Loder (From “ Guerrillas of Grace: Prayers for the Battle”)

O extravagant God,

in this ripening, red-tinged autumn,

waken in me a sense of joy in just being alive,

joy for nothing in general except everything in particular;

joy in sun and rain mating with earth to birth a harvest;

joy in soft light through shyly disrobing trees;

joy in the acolyte moon setting halos around processing clouds;

joy in the beating of a thousand wings mysteriously knowing which way it is warm;

joy in wagging tails and kids’ smiles and in this spunky old city;

joy in the taste of bread and wine, the smell of dawn, a touch, a song, a presence;

joy in having what I cannot live without—other people to hold and cry and laugh with;

joy in love, in you; and that at first and last is grace.

The narrative in the resource continues:

“Gratitude has the power to change our thinking and the way we see God, others, and our lives. There are lots of ways to practice gratitude. One simple and effective way is to take a few minutes at the end of each day and write down three things for which you are grateful. Try to be specific rather than listing things like family, faith, church, and friends. What are you most thankful for about your spouse, children, or parents? What about your faith or church makes you truly grateful? Over me, this practice will result in more positive ways of seeing the world and being with God. Your thankful heart will even lead you to seeing God in others.”

Gratitude is a choice. If we fail to choose it, by default we become ungrateful. It enters our heart and our spirit and takes away any sense of joy. It blinds us to all that God has given and continues to give. Without gratitude our relationships suffer. Without gratitude, we can become bitter, seeing ourselves as victims, as something less than. It is a dry, sad life.

The invitation as we enter November is to find a practice or habit to bring all that is around you into your awareness. To open your eyes and your heart to see in a new way. To  find the joy that is gratitude; to release your spirit to love in a new way; to look at those who share your life in big ways and small ways as an integral and valuable part of your life... Maybe it might be pausing during the day to look around and to reflect. It might be walking or driving not just to get to a destination, but to truly see and appreciate all that is around you. Maybe journaling is your thing and you could pick up a guided journey, such as “A Year of Daily Joy: A Guided Journal to Creating Happiness Every Day” by Jennifer Louden. You might  find the courage to tell someone how grateful you are that they are a part of your life or to give that thank you to someone you have been meaning to give for a long  me.

Find your way and see the changes God will bring into your life, your heart and your spirit. And you will experience deep joy and peace, that passes all understanding. 


                                                                                   Grace and Peace

                                                                                       Pastor Heather