This was our third year hosting a Blue Christmas service - a worship where we provide space for the difficult emotions of the holiday seasons. Because I think we could all use the opportunity to name the places where we are struggling and where we find hope, this week I am posting the reflections and prayers I wrote for the service we had on Sunday December 20th. This is part 4.
Making Space for Gratitude
Psalm 69:29-34 (NRSV)
I am lowly and in pain; let your salvation, O God, protect me.
30 I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. 31 This will please the Lord more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs. 32 Let the oppressed see it and be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive. 33 For the Lord hears the needy, and does not despise his own that are in bonds.
34 Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and everything that moves in them.
There is much to grieve this year, much to fear, and much to make us angry.
And yet, as I have talked with church members, friends, and loved ones,
I have often heard, but we are grateful for…
…for more time with loved ones.
…for a new job
…for the ability to participate virtually
Human beings are complicated and complex.
We often hold contradicting emotions at the same time.
Acknowledging the sorrow of loss
alongside gratitude for the end of pain.
We lament widespread suffering
We are thankful for learning new ways of connecting with each other.
Our sadness and our gratitude is not a scale to balance.
Our thanksgivings are not “there but the grace of God go I”
comparisons to those with a worser fate.
Our call is to praise and magnify God in thanksgiving
in the midst of the messiness that is humanity.
There are times when gratitude is hard.
When the weight of everything else
means our thankfulness feels shallow at best
and nonexistent at worst.
And in those times, we come into community,
lifting up one another,
thankful for the gifts each of us share,
and the fact that God calls us beloved.
Let us pray.
It can be difficult to live in gratitude
When days are long,
when it seems everything is going wrong,
when everything is just so much harder.
Come and renew us.
Come and reveal yourself again to us,
remind us that your mercies are new each morning
Come and sweep over my heart with a spirit of gratitude
for all that I may have overlooked or missed.
We are grateful for community that surrounds and supports us.
We are grateful for those who are working so hard to prevent and treat COVID-19.
We are grateful for leaders who are making difficult decisions to care for their communities.
We are grateful for technology that helps us stay connected.
Hear now all our thanksgivings, spoken and unspoken.
Let our gratitude take root and bear fruit:
Love for the people and community around us
Joy, even when things are not going as we hoped,
Peace in times of chaos,
Hope that there is still good to be found
May all you have blessed us with
break through the cracks in our lives
and shine forth your glory.
I invite you to leave your prayers of gratitude in the comments so we can continue to pray with one another.
 Adapted from “A Prayer of Gratitude for Wisdom” by Michelle Bodle in Speaking Truth: Women raising voices in prayer. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2020.