Welcome to the Sunday Devotion. In only a few days we celebrate Thanksgiving. Life has been changing since Thanksgiving a year ago. It is a tradition for many of us to take a few moments when sitting down for our Thanksgiving meals to go around the table and say something we are thankful for. Let’s get a head start on that and take a moment to reflect on our blessings and feel gratitude for people, events, and things in our lives.
“This is the day which the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalms 118:24)
As I reflect on changes in my life over the last year and a half of the pandemic, I feel thankful for the opportunities I’ve had to connect to people online. People who were acquaintances before the pandemic are now my friends. My life’s circle has grown larger and it crosses boundaries of cities, states, even countries. Community of Christ of Washington, DC holds English classes for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). We had been actively teaching English for 6 years, holding our classes in our building in Washington, DC. Nineteen months ago the pandemic caused us to close the doors of the church and we took our classes online. Now the relationships we’ve established with our students continue as they move home to their countries. How has your group of friends and acquaintances grown? For whom are you thankful?
And as a teacher, I have met amazing people and been given the privilege of seeing our country from different perspectives. One of the questions we ask our students is what they like about the United States. What do you think are the special things that people from other countries see in the United States?
One observation that really surprised me came from two students from South Korea. What did they like best about the United States? The blue skies. I thought they must be speaking about their experience when flying across the United States, but they were speaking about the blue skies they see everyday living in Washington, DC. The skies of South Korea are so full of pollution (smog), even outside the major city of Seoul, the students are struck by the clear skies of Washington, DC. Some students comment on the amount of green grass, plants, and parks in our cities. For others, the foremost observation is the friendliness of strangers. In their countries, people would never greet or strike up a conversation with a stranger while standing in line at a checkout register, on an elevator, etc. The students help me count my blessings.
Let me go another direction about what we can be thankful for as we enter our “post-pandemic” life (I hope we really can call it “post-pandemic”.) A good friend just posted a picture on Facebook of them visiting a parent who has been in a nursing home for multiple years. This wife/mother/grandmother got to physically see her family for the first time in 18 months. I can’t imagine the heartache and immense joy that the family is all feeling. I am thankful for the growing opportunities to rejoin our life’s circle as vaccinations have become available.
I am also thankful for reconnecting with people within my neighborhood. Those evening walks helped us reacquaint ourselves with the parents of our children’s school friends of 20 years ago. How about the new people in your lives or those you’ve reconnected within the last 18 months? Let’s be thankful.
If you are the parents of small children, what are the blessings you account for since the pandemic hit? For many, it might still be hard to get past the stress and hardship of having school-age children connecting to school via their computers while you were working from home yourselves. But we saw no harsh colds, flu, ear infections, etc. during our time of isolation. And we have some precious memories and insights from those times.
There are so many things we are grateful for. And in our gratitude, let us reach out in generosity and offer kind moments to others. Smile at the passing stranger and say hello, say a word of thanks to the cashier who’s been on their feet for hours, offer a word of encouragement to the parent who is placating their child in the crush of people in the grocery aisle. Be generous of spirit. Not only do you offer a gift of comfort and peace to another, you receive the same yourself.
Christ is in those moments. “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15)
Author: Bonnie Barber
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Various authors throughout the Chesapeake Bay Mission Center and beyond provide these thought-provoking weekly devotions.