It’s beginning to look a lot like (Canadian) Thanksgiving where I live. The color of the leaves is changing, there’s frost on the ground most mornings, and the local market is stocked with freshly picked apples. I’m so grateful for those visual reminders that, along with the changing seasons, the whole world is in God’s hands.
Last year in this space, I shared with you an idea for helping people of all ages practice gratitude by providing them with a fun, simple tool to use at home (inspired by this Thankful Jar idea). This year I’m tweaking that idea slightly and adding a new resource suggestion to the list: a wonderful booklet on Faith Practices. I love this resource for its user-friendly approach to helping ordinary people (like me!) develop “holy habits that help us love God and our neighbor, listen to the Spirit, and become more like Jesus.” To find out how to encourage all ages in your congregation to grow gratitude and explore faith practices, read on.
Using an envelope for mailing or a jam jar for in-person giving, prepare and package the following resources for each household:
- A set of I AM GRATEFUL colored paper strips
- 5 Ways to Grow Grateful Kids (for households with children)
- A Faith Practices booklet (optional)
- An encouraging message explaining what to do. Here’s mine:
Thanksgiving is a particularly perfect time to practice gratitude as "our response of thankfulness for God’s goodness, love, provision, and grace.” (Faith Practices, p. 15)
The paper slips you’ll find inside this package provide you with a simple way to practice gratitude this month (and beyond!). Some ideas for how you might do that:
- Place the slips and a writing tool in a prominent place in your household. Set aside a time each day to write down that for which you are grateful. Read through the slips as part of your celebration on Thanksgiving.
- Use the long strips to form a paper chain garland. Hang it up as a reminder of God’s faithfulness.
- If you’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving with family or friends, place a slip at each person’s place setting and invite them to fill it in. Share with each other what you are grateful for and why. (If meeting virtually, invite each person to print what they’re grateful for on a piece of paper to be held up and shared.) You could pray your list popcorn style, pausing during the prayer for each person to ‘pop’ in by reading what they wrote on their slip.
- Print more slips and continue the practice well past this season.
Use the Faith Practices booklet to learn more about the practice of gratitude and some of the other “holy habits that help grow in love for God and our neighbor.” The booklet was designed for you to savor. Enjoy discovering those practices that will resonate with you.
We hope you find these tools helpful. And we also hope you know that you are on our gratitude list!
Love, God’s Big Family, Your Church
Providing households with ideas is important; providing them with the actual resources they can use to implement those ideas is even better. Doing so is one more way to demonstrate that you’re there to support them as they dwell in faith at home.
PS: During the pandemic we learned the art of the 'porch drop-off' and were reintroduced to sending packages in the mail. Both methods can be used to bless ALL households in your congregation, including those who may not have returned since you re-opened the building. Take this opportunity to reconnect and to remind people they are beloved by God and by you, even if you don't see them on Sunday anymore.
For even more fabulous resources on practicing gratitude, visit the Faith Practices Project.