Giving thanks is more than you think.

Are you all there is? Is everything you are and everything you have the result of your efforts? Are you alive because of something you did?  Is the fact that you are alive “payment” for who you are and what you have? It is human I think to look at ourselves ultimately as the center of this thing we call Creation, or Being, or Universe (however you may define it.) I am because I am.

I would like to offer you something.

Have you ever thought about giving thanks for all you are and all you have; for your friends and family? Sometimes life gets hard and there is hurt, but I cannot help but ask, in spite of all that can and does happen to us, is there not SOMETHING for which we can give thanks in the midst of it all?

The cool part about giving thanks is that when you give thanks, you admit that you are not the center of your universe. You admit that who you are and what you have in the way of gifts and talents is not the result of your own doing. When you give thanks you admit some OTHER exists. Giving thanks is an outward looking, not inward. Giving thanks expresses appreciation of the fact that no one can claim ownership of life and no one can make meaning on their own. Giving thanks admits that no human being is responsible for being here in the first place. Giving thanks is the admission of purpose; that we exist for a reason; that we are given the gifts we have for a reason. Looking upward is important to do rather than just inward.

Whomever the God is that exists for you, whatever name you give that God, giving thanks is the admission that there is a God; that purpose and meaning are not for any of us to create but to find.

And when we do it is important to give thanks.

Grace versus revenge

Grace versus revenge

There is an internal conflict between grace and revenge.

I believe the revelation that God was in Christ who lived amongst us in our imperfect world is God’s way of revealing forgiveness.

After all, was it not our actions that nailed Jesus to the cross: “You say you are God? Well I don’t believe you. Nail him.”

Three days after that event, Jesus rose from the dead and reached out to those who had killed him. It was God’s way of maintaining the relationship with human beings, in spite of it all.

Our base instincts, however, tell us that revenge is sweet and called for when anything like what happened to Jesus happens to us. Well, if God did to us what our base instincts tell us is normative in cases like this, guess what . . . .?   But God didn’t. Thank God.

Here’s my point

What happened in Paris is the epitome of terror. No one — no one — has a right to carry out such murder in the name of a higher power. Our inclination is to automatically follow our base instincts and seek revenge.

Well here’s my thought for this week

Maybe grace is the call to not just jump to what our base instincts tell us. It is our base instincts that tell us that all people who share a like faith think alike.


That is where our faith, our realization of what God has done to and for us, must dictate our actions. Not our base instincts.

Grace needs to be between their actions towards us and our reactions towards them. Never forget. God’s “reaction” towards our actions was grace, continued presence, not base instinctual reaction. Is this not a modal for us as we deal with assaults against us? Grace needs to be between our base instincts and our actions. Grace is awareness that what is may not be all there is; that there may be more to come even though we still have to deal with the slaughter presently in front of us and possibly aimed at us. But, again, grace speaks to a quiet pause rather than the base instinct of panic and fear.

Don’t get me wrong.

If someone says “My goal is to kill you and your family,” that is different than Jesus’s words ‘If someone takes your coat, offer your cloak as well.” I do not hear Jesus saying to do nothing in the face of evil.

The conflict between grace and base instinct is right here.

Do we not have a calling to keep ourselves and our families safe? If someone has chosen to pursue evil as the call to kill, then do I not have an obligation to keep the ones I love safe? It is by no means an easy question! But we can’t just jump with no prior reflection.

Maybe the tension between grace and retaliation, between maintaining relationships when someone hurts us or wants to, will level our heads and keep us from jumping into something just because our base instincts tell us to.

Yet, that must be weighed with the obligation to keep ourselves safe when someone has said to us “you’re next.”

You figure out what works for you.

I just present the tension between grace and retaliation.

Comments invited.

Who does your hand belong to?

Hold your hand in front of your face for a moment. I have a question for you.

Who does that hand belong to?

You will no doubt answer, “My self”

Now another question.

What is a “self” and how do we know it when we see it.

Animals, as blessed as they are and a blessing to us, do not have the ability to stand apart from their physical bodies and say that is “my self”. They just don’t.

Even if you would like to think differently, animals don’t ponder where they will go to the bathroom. They don’t worry about their “selves”.

The fact that we humans can look at our “selves” sets us apart from the animals we come to love.

To see my “self” as something that exists in real time is a gift from God meant to distinguish us from the animals. If you have never read Genesis 1, I dare you to read it and send a comment.

The ability to observe one’s self is a reflection of the “mind and soul” of God. I am doing some work on the relationship between science and God. As far as I understand at this point in time, this thing we call creation is part of, as some scientists would put it, an infinite mind that stands apart from, yet is the origination of, this creation we see and live in. I would call this “infinite mind” God. Creation is because God is. Creation is not God but were it not for God, there would be no creation.

This ability to stand apart from and be part of, is an attribute we share with God.

It is to be made in the image of God.

“I” hurt. “I” am sad. “I” am hungry. “I” am spiritual. The very fact that I can use the word “I” and know what it means, that it refers to me and my existence, is God-like.

There is a price for this gift.

See you next week.