If you’re anything like me, there are times when you look up and realize you haven’t thanked God in a while (usually when things seem to be going either really well, or really poorly, in my case). That’s one reason I love the LWR value of gratitude — what a great reminder! In the face of the various challenges of my day-to-day work, this value brings me back to the heart of what we do at LWR, how we do it, and why we do it. One of the things I am most thankful for in my life is my church, the community of faith that supports, nurtures and sustains me. The hymns we sing and liturgy we use in prayer and praise are an important part of my worship. Often, I find that a particular hymn or part of the liturgy bring to mind people or situations that I became aware of through my work at LWR.
A few years ago, I took a trip to Thailand to see how LWR Quilts and Kits help refugees living there. The week after I returned, our pastor used a Eucharistic prayer from the Evangelical Lutheran Worship, Pew Edition, that included the words “God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, you have brought us this far along the way….” Having just spent a week with Burmese refugees who have lived with oppression, war and displacement for decades, these familiar words struck a rich, deep, new chord in my heart.
God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, you have brought us this far along the way. In times of bitterness you did not abandon us, but guided us into the path of love and light. In every age you sent prophets to make known your loving will for all humanity. The cry of the poor has become your own cry; our hunger and thirst for justice your own desire. ("Evangelical Lutheran Worship")
The only response I could express was tears. Tears of sadness and empathy for these weary brothers and sisters. Tears of profound gratitude for the grace and faith and hope I saw in, and heard from, those I met. Tears of thanks for the dear friend sitting next to me that week who stayed near and let me cry in the safety of the sanctuary on that August Sunday morning.
Philippians 4:5 says, “Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.” God is near. God leads us, guides us, provides creativity, resources and opportunities. There’s no reason not to be gentle. Or trusting. Or confident. Or grateful. My weekly worship and regular involvement in the life of my church help remind me of this important reality.
LWR’s explanation of our value of gratitude says, “though our experiences vary, we view community as a gift.” I belong to many communities — congregational, professional and global to name a few. I’m so thankful to be a part of each of these communities because they reflect upon, and strengthen, one another. What I learn in my faith life I can apply to my work life. What I experience in my work life — here at home and around the world — enriches and forever changes who I am as a person of faith.