Sunday, 9 October 2016

Thankfulness the imprimatur for fruitful giving

How often do we really think about giving thanks for the day or for life itself?  I would suggest that this is rare for most people as we tend to have a expectancy of the good coming to us in our lives.  This can be seen in the Gospel story from today and the tale of the lepers (Lk 17. 11-19).  Only one of the lepers returns to give thanks and here the turn in the story is seen as that one is a person outside of the religious / social structures of society.

In looking at the history of Australia it has been a place that is extraordinary lucky or rather blessed in some respects while perhaps holding true, even in 2016, to the original quote by Donald Horne.  In many respects no matter where we live we are also lucky or blessed by the fact that we are who we are, just as the country is.  In thinking about this and our life situation we concentrate often on the falls, the despairs, the bad times and are neglectful of the good times in our lives.  Ironically we often celebrate or perpetuate the story of our failures rather than the stories of our good times. The good and happy days are forgotten quickly and it is only the dark of a lifetime that is remembered or stands out in our memory.  The great things that come are way are often overlooked as we continue our lives with the understanding that this is what / how life is and should be.  This is when we are at our happiest, it is when we live life to the fullest, it is when we have life and this is when we forget as we want to believe that this is 'normal'.

In making the assumption that this is normal we appear to turn off our thankfulness.  Everything is going well so why do we need to give thanks?  It is only following times of trouble that we appear to need to say thank you for deliverance or thank you for getting to a new place as the trauma of the past is re-lived until it becomes substantive rather than the small part of daily life that it was.  The trauma tends to overtake our thinking and everything else is put on hold.  Past successes mean nothing and become dreams of the past.  Something that is recalled as myth or as a story of the 'Golden years' forgetting the heartache and the trauma that was experienced to get to that golden moment when everything seemed right.  Moments that are vividly recalled in the stress of our present trauma to call us into the dreams of the past rather than into the possibilities of tomorrow.

It is with a thankful heart we give of ourselves generously

One of the early theologians and Church Fathers, Ambrose of Milan, wrote relating Genesis 1.21a to our own situation in the world.  We are made to swim within the environment of the world, life's up and downs, the good times and the horrific but we only do so as we accept that we are created for this world and to be in relationship with each part of it including our fellow creatures.  In doing so we swim through the troughs and rise high on the crests of life as storms come and go.  We do this in thankfulness rather than in a fugue state of complete despair and loss as if we are forever trapped within the troughs rather than seeking the voice that calls us into the heights and peaks if we were only to abandon ourselves to the call.

In returning to a state of thankfulness we re-energise our lives.  We are able to reinvent what we give of our lives and our selves over to God's call.  In a state of gratefulness we are able to abandon our pre-conceived needs, those things that hold us back from our giving of ourselves.  Those things we hoard to ourselves, just in case, of that which never materialises in our own lives.  A hoard that goes nowhere, does nothing that in the end becomes no more than  memories and trinkets squandered here and there for our own self - gratification.  The transcendence of God's call that we give thanks for enables our hearts to re-envisage our neighbours.  To reach out in love and transform the lives that we come into contact with in our daily lives.

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