Sunday, March 18, 2007

No Complaints

Today in the church tradition is "refreshment Sunday." This is a day set aside during the season of Lent - typically a more penitential season - a day to say, "Ahhhhh...." My sermon today focused on this and how our lectionary readings carried the twin themes of "joy" and "giving thanks."

It's funny you know, but I think that in the church we are not so good at giving thanks. We're really good at complaining and criticizing, but not so good at being joyful and truly giving thanks. I've even noticed that in our "prayers of the people" when there is an invitation to give name to particular prayer concerns and blessings, that we readily pray for all the things that aren't going so well, but we can't seem to muster up any prayers for those things that are going well.

I learned from a friend just a couple of days ago that there is a church pastor who has decided to remedy this situation. He has created "complaint-free" wrist bands - you know like the "live strong bands." Basically the deal is that he's asking members of his congregation to try and go 21 days straight without "complaining, criticizing, gossiping, or using sarcasm." So you get this purple bracelet and try to be "complaint free." If you catch yourself complaining, criticizing, gossiping, or using sarcasm then you have to take the band off of your wrist, switch it to the other wrist and start counting the days from scratch. The pastor said it took him 3 1/2 months and that some in his congregation have taken 7 months to succeed at this trial. I wonder if I would ever make it... And I wonder what the church would be like if we stopped all that complaining, criticizing, gossiping, and using sarcasm? Maybe in St. Paul's words we could more truly be "Ambassadors for Christ."

If this is a challenge for you, then may I commend this prayer to you by the Anglican Devine, George Herbert?

Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, - a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.

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