News from the Pews

Vicar’s reflection: July 2021

Hello, my Brothers and Sisters in Christ. This is the July 2021 edition of “News from the Pews”.

The month of June brought with it the hottest day of the year so far which has inspired many of us to take a break. At this time of the year, many of us are looking forward to our holiday break either in this country or abroad. For those who are planning a holiday abroad, I hope you will be able to get to somewhere safe. Some of us may prefer just to have a couple of days break away somewhere quiet and peaceful or just a day at the seaside.

I guess being alive, in good health and happy, happy enough to contemplate going on holiday is something worth giving thanks to God for, especially when we reflect on everything, we have gone through in the past 18 months. To date, over 128,000 people in the UK alone have died from Coronavirus. Behind the numbers are individuals, who were much loved and are greatly missed.  A mum, a dad, a wife, a husband, a brother, a sister, a grandparent, a friend, a colleague.

It is always a good thing, now and then, to reflect on the goodness of God and count our blessings. In an account of a Christmas Dinner written in 1836, Charles Dickens said:

Reflect on your present blessings, on which every man has many, not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”

Yes, we all have many reasons to give thanks to God. In actual fact, if we look hard enough, we will find that there is something for us to give thanks to God for every single day of our lives. Two things happen to you when you give thanks:

It opens your eyes to see and appreciate the good things that have happened to you.

Secondly, it brings happiness to your heart as your brain registers and acknowledges what you’re giving thanks for. So, even when we give thanks to God, it is not for God’s sake. It is for our sake. We are the one who benefited from acknowledging the goodness of God.

“We should not accept in silence the benefactions of God, but return thanks for them”. —St. Basil the Great

Every day of our lives is an opportunity to say thank you to God. As in our baptism and confirmation, we should make our offerings of thanksgiving to God a public affair. Proclaiming the goodness of God and the wonderful things he is doing in your life on the roof top for all to hear. This glorifies and honours God. Our worship of praise and thanksgiving are the only thing we have to offer to God. Everything else comes from Him.

In the Words of the Saints, what better words may we carry in our heart, pronounce with our mouth, write with a pen, than the words, Thanks be to God”?

In St Augustine’s letter 72, “There is no phrase that may be said so readily, that can be heard with greater joy, felt with more emotion or produced with greater effect”.

There is no one who, with a little bit of thought, cannot but discover many reasons for being grateful to God. Once we have come to an appreciation of all He has given to us, we will have abundant cause to give thanks continually.

In encouraging you to always remember to give thanks to God, I would also likewise to say a bigthank youto all of you who have so generously supported your Church, St Andrew’s Church. in so many different ways over the last, somewhat challenging, couple of years. Without your generous giving of time, talents and money we would not have been able to do all the things we have been able to do so far. Our Sunday services and funerals and many other administrative and maintenance tasks. Thank you for all that you have given that has made all of these things possible and hopefully will continue to make further things possible as they are needed.

Showing gratitude for everything we receive is something I would like to encourage all of you to do always. I would like to encourage you to set a time aside each day to make a list of what you are thankful for, even if it is only one thing. On days when youre feeling empty go back and read some of your list.

When we give thanks for the seemingly little things, we make a place for God to grow within us. By practising an attitude of thanksgiving in our daily lives, we follow the model set by Jesus himself, who expressed gratitude to the Father throughout His life and ministry. Gratitude is the appropriate response to God our Creator, Lord, and Saviour, who, in His goodness, redeems and sustains us.

Gratitude is always a powerful weapon. Only if we are able to contemplate and feel genuine gratitude for all those ways we have experienced Gods love, generosity and trust, as well as his forgiveness, patience, forbearance and compassion, will we allow the Spirit to grant us the freshness that can renew our life and our mission.

So, as we enjoy our short and long break, BBQ with friends and families, a day at the seaside or just being alive and healthy, lets remember to both count and give thanks for all the blessings we receive from God that come in and through our common faith in Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Rev Olasupo Ogunyinka

Team Vicar, St Andrew’s Church, Bruntcliffe, Morley.