Last week we began to think about the nature of our relationship with Jesus using two complementary themes. The first was the idea of the four seasons and the other was 12 key words. We began with the Springtime of faith and the word ‘Here’. For me ‘Here’ is all about the place, which was a farmer’s field near Newport Pagnell, where I came to know Jesus. That ‘Here’ still moulds and shapes how I think of the Gospel and how I share this Gospel too. It leads naturally to the second word which is ‘Thanks!’.
When I came to faith in Jesus, I was encouraged to tell people of what Jesus had done for me, and I did. I told those who were at Greenbelt with me and they rejoiced. I told my Minister in Margate and he was lost for words. I told my mum, and she was relieved because she thought a music festival was just about sex and drugs and rock and roll.
Faith during Springtime is marked by an exuberance of gratitude. For me as a 17-year-old the biggest reason why I said ‘Thanks!’ was because I knew that Jesus was real. As a 15-year-old I remember walking home along Margate seafront trying my hardest to ‘feel the Force’ because I’d just seen the first Star Wars film. I’d felt nothing and that sense of aloneness ate into my soul until that moment in that farmer’s field when I discovered that God was really real. For me it was the best news ever.
The word ‘Thanks!’ is the gateway to our practising the habits of gratefulness and appreciation. These habits point us to the unsearchable riches that are ours in Jesus but also to the incredible riches we may take for granted because we live in Western Europe. The whole ethos of ‘Thanks’ is to repeatedly echo the old song of ‘Count your blessings, name them one by one’ reminding ourselves constantly of all that the Lord has done for us.
We live in a highly acidic culture which remorselessly corrodes such habits of gratefulness and appreciation. It insists we can never be happy unless we acquire more and more. It stokes up the pressures of life, it cheapens the sorrows of grief, it undermines our hopes and dreams, it adds to the crushing weight of reality and ignores the frailty of life itself.
All of this reminds us why we need to learn and immerse ourselves in these habits of gratitude and appreciation. Such habits are to be repeated again and again that we mighty learn, like Paul, to give thanks in all circumstances. When we do this our lives grow richer and fuller and more able to sustain us as the seasons of knowing Jesus in our life change.