What might sound like a platitude can actually redirect one's life, say United Methodists who have joined a quiet movement of people emphasizing gratitude in personal and community life. Churches turn to the praises present in so many of the psalms to stress gratitude in worship. Individual Christians keep gratitude journals. Clergy teach and preach the value of gratitude in a confusing, sometimes less than soulful world.
"As soon as you start recognizing that God not only radically loves me, God loves me in my worst moment, then you can get out of this thing's way," Malone says. "You start to realize that God's relentless love comes through regardless of my behavior, even in my sorriest moment. When you start to understand that, how can gratitude not become part of who you are?"
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Dear Christine and Kevin. I tried it to express my sense of gratitude to Christine at the Sedona Angelic Reiki workshop, but all I could do was to tear up. I just want both of you to know how much I honour the space that you hold and the great commitment I know it takes to do this work. It meets my needs for validation, a sense of hope, joy and deep connection. There was a sense of homecoming that has continued to resonate and sustain me. Maria.
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Such actions felt antithetical to the Gospel and to the command "to pick up our cross and bear it daily," Long recalls. In addition, as he went about his daily life wandering into offices, restaurants and stores, he noticed gratitude notes written by Long's Chapel members posted on the walls of businesses. The church helped sow the "seeds of gratitude" into community life.
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Just as with the biblical miracle of the loaves and fishes when belief meant there was enough food to feed thousands, belief in gratitude is powerful. It winds out of one person, one church, to meander through a town, even a city. Gratitude changes people, one person at a time.
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Wheeler knows that to be true. "I have seen people who have been transformed by gratitude," she says. "Through a crisis – a death, a grave illness, depression, a dark night of the soul. That's when they've really been able to recognize the power of Christ, and within that there is always a natural exuberance of grace."
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Bringing gratitude into daily life often begins with "spiritual disciplines that help us recognize God's grace," she says. "One is definitely the spiritual discipline of patience, waiting on God. Another is daily prayer. When we are still and quiet before God, with God, we usually end up being grateful."
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Millard traces his devotion to gratitude to his youth. The son of an alcoholic, he was nonplussed and deeply grateful when a United Methodist church in South Dakota welcomed him, his family and his formerly alcoholic father when his dad dried out and decided the family must go to church.