Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Year of Gratitude: Moving Beyond Mere Cynicism

The past few years I have noticed that I have grown increasingly cynical. The circumstances of my own life, pastoral ministry to the life circumstances of others, encounters with poverty and contexts of oppression, rapid reading and engagement with current events, and a whole host of other factors have resulted in a very jaded version of me. Said differenty, suspicion and cynicism have become my new religions.[1] I have noticed that without fail many conversations move rather quickly from friendly discourse to critical banter. While there is nothing inherently wrong with the desire to move beyond superficiality and to challenge the status quo, to be defined by cynicism and suspicion is a deadly trap to the human spirit. This trap has begun to dig its teeth into my soul and cripple my passion. Even worse, I have begun to miss the beautiful attestations to God's kingdom alive and well all around me: in my family, my community, my church, and the world.

I have a particular zeal for the prophetic tradition and concern that is to play a pivotal role in God's people and ecclessial witness. We must be willing to ask the hard questions, to pull back the curtain on false assumptions and cheap imitations of truth, and to expose the idols of our culture and socio-political systems that continue to oppress and offend so many.

Said differently, we are to be a people of the cross.

Yet we must not forget that we are also a people of the resurrection.

Even more, we are a people who claim the Eucharist as sacramental center to our worship and missional vocation in the world.

And Eucharist means to give thanks. [2]

I need to be more Eucharistic. This is my New Year's resolution.

I declare 2012 as the "Year of Gratitude," I proclaim 2012 as the year of thanksgiving. I resolve to make 2012 a fresh opportunity to incarnate a Eucharistic frame of mind.

In 2012 I will move beyond mere cynicsm and strive to give thanks for the many blessings around me...

Maybe you will join me...Maybe you can help me...

"And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him" (Colossians 3:15-17).

Note:

[1] A great song by Switchfoot, "Selling the News" (2011).

[2] Karl Barth says it best, "The only answer to χάρις is εύχαριστία...χάρις always demands the answer of εύχαριστία. Grace and gratitude belong together like heaven and earth. Grace evokes gratitude like the voice of an echo. Gratitude follows grace like thunder lightning" (Church Dogmatics IV, p. 41).

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