In her recent book, Grateful: The Subversive Practice of Giving Thanks, church historian Diana Butler Bass describes gratitude as “kindness in the face of anger, connection in the face of division, and hope in the face of fear.” Giving thanks and expressing appreciation, both to God and to one another, offers an antidote for our anxieties, reframing life in a way that helps us to realize that we are not alone in our concerns and to remember that God is always true to the promises God makes. Given all the anxiety surrounding a contentious election year, concerns about the future of our denomination, and the persistent stresses and strains with which life confronts us, NMO-UMC will be looking at 2020 through the lens of gratitude. This will be our 2020 vision.
Because living in an attitude of gratitude takes practice and effort, we will be encountering ways to make giving thanks a habitual part of our life and faith. Our weekly worship experiences will begin with the sharing of personal expressions of gratitude. Church meetings will similarly begin with centering our work together in the spirit of appreciation. To kick off A Year of Thanksgiving, our worship series for the Season of Epiphany (January—February), New Year, Same Promises, will focus on God’s promises and the unchanging faithfulness of the One who offers life and redemption. Other opportunities to creatively engage the congregation in thanks-living will continue throughout the year, including the cultivation of the spiritual discipline of gratitude journaling and frequent sharings through social media and church communications centered around this theme, to name just a few.