Posts Tagged ‘thanksgiving’

DSC01573When we began our cruise of the Greek Islands last year one of the first words our guide taught us to say was efharistó, or thankyou. “Greeks love it when you say efharistó,” the guide said. The response we were told would always be parakaló, you’re welcome. Sure enough I found many opportunities to say efharistó to tour guides, waitpersons, bus drivers, shopkeepers and others and I was delighted that whenever I said efharistó, the response would always be parakaló.

I found something refreshing about using a word that was understood in a country far from home, and to have it acknowledged straight away. But perhaps even more important than that was the fact that the word I used the most was a word that focussed on the person to whom it was being addressed, not on myself.

Soon after being introduced to the word efharistó I drew on my basic knowledge of Biblical Greek and noticed straight away that embedded in the word efharistó, was the word charis, which means grace. This gave me a fresh appreciation of the way in which “thankyou” recognised an act of grace and at the same time was a symbol of grace.

In a society where entitlement has replaced thanksgiving the idea that thanks is an act of grace is quite important. When we go to a restaurant we pay our money and if the food or the service is not up to our standard we are more likely to express our lack of appreciation than to say thankyou. We have paid for something and are therefore entitled to a certain standard. Entitlement shows itself in many forms and sadly thanksgiving has been overtaken in many common situations.

May 30 is National Thanksgiving Day in Australia and it’s a great time to pause and reflect on the importance of saying thankyou to God and to the people who live around us. Even if we think that people don’t deserve it, saying thankyou is a powerful act of grace and we need to say it more.

Efharistó. Thankyou for reading this blog and for giving thought to these simple words.

chinch

After all the things I have heard and read about refugees in Australia it was a privilege to attend a church service this afternoon with the Perth Chin Baptist Church. From today the church that was started earlier this year, held its first service in High Wycombe, guests of the Maida Vale Baptist Church.

The Chin people are an ethnic people from Myanmar (Burma) and most of the Chin in Australia came here as refugees from Malaysia where they fled because of religious persecution in their own country.

Rev James Tin Kung, Pastor of the Perth Chin Baptist Church

Rev James Tin Kung, Pastor of the Perth Chin Baptist Church

It’s interesting that this congregation of people, who are newcomers to Australia, is bigger than our own church which is acting as host to the Perth Chin congregation. Perhaps that says something about the nature of the church in Australia. At some level it would seem that Australians have had it so good that we fail to appreciate what we have, and we have begun to take our privilege for granted.

We are one of the richest and most privileged nations in the world, but instead of living a life that reflects our appreciation for God’s blessings we squander what we have. We eat too much, drink too much, spend too much money; we waste the resources that are available to us, and we fail to acknowledge the God who has provided for us in the first place.

Spending time with a group of newcomers to Australia and worshipping with them, despite not being able to understand much of what was said, has helped me to appreciate afresh the wonderful land in which we live and the great God who has blessed us in so many ways.

It’s time for us to learn to say thankyou and to live in a way that reflects that sense of appreciation.

IMG_0119I opened my window this morning and was greeted with the amazing site of a corner of the church car park covered in purple from the flowering Jacaranda tree. Jacarandas are out everywhere you look at the moment, and I think it is a beautiful site. The purple-blue flowers create colour and life and for a few weeks add a different perspective to the local environment.

By the way, did you know that Jacarandas are a native of Brazil?

As beautiful as they are Jacarandas will probably bring complaints from people at times because of the mass of flowers that cover roads, footpaths, gardens and driveways. They get in gutters and stain driveways and are a right pain in the neck.

How we view something like the Jacaranda flowers is probably the way we will view a whole lot of other things in life. You might call it the “glass have full/glass half empty” concept.  Do we look on things around us cause for thanksgiving and praise, or do we only see the problems and the disadvantages.IMG_0120

Reality says that you need to take both into account. It’s important to identify the problem rather than deny it and pretend it doesn’t exist, but then we need to find a way to address it and look for solutions. If we get stuck in our problems they leave us with more than the jacaranda blues.

I love the Psalms in the Bible where the writers often express their fears, complaints, and grudges, but go on to praise God for his goodness and love. The language of praise is incredibly effective in lifting you out of your blues into a new place.

For a few weeks in late Spring and early Summer I figure it’s worth enjoying the Jacarandas … and it’s always worthwhile lifting your spirit in praise.

 

  • Jacaranda (normamartiriphotography.wordpress.com)

ImageGod, may we go back to basics:-

From complicated tastes to a taste for the simple;
From instant gratification to delayed gratification;
From chasing status to acceptance of a humble position.
May we accept
May we accept ourselves
May we accept each other
May we accept You
May we accept the good things You give us –
No longer grasping,
but holding out open hands
ready to receive with thanks
Your every good gift.
Amen.

Craig Watson 2013

A prayer from CBM’s August e-news where you can also read a good article on disability in the Australian Church.

ImageLast night we went to the airport. We weren’t going on holiday, and nobody was flying off to distant places. We went to the airport so our two grandsons could see the planes. It reminded me of going to the airport when I was a child, except then you could lean over the railings, and smell the avgas and hear the noises.  Now you have to look through a big pane of tinted safety glass.  But we still saw the planes … and the trucks … and the buses. An airport is a busy place.

In a busy world, it is so important to take time to smell the roses, look at the planes and find other opportunities to experience the simple joys of life. It’s important to appreciate family and friends, and it’s great to go to an airport with no intention of going anywhere … just to look at the planes with children who get such joy from simple things.

Through the pressures of life and the times of worry, it’s worth being reminded of the practical words of Jesus:  Consider the ravens, he said. God looks after them, so won’t he look after you even more?  Do you think that by worrying you will add an hour to your life? Not that you’d want an extra hour, because you’d probably just fill it up with more worrying. The last bit was my words, not Jesus’!

Consider the wildflowers, Jesus said.  They don’t fuss around being busy all the time, but God cares for them and he’s going to care for you even more.

Take time for the simple things in life: listen to the birds, look at the wildflowers, go and watch the planes landing, and give thanks to your Maker.