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Rector's Reflections

Thoughts & Homilies from our Rector
Rev. Eric L. Miller




November 2021 Connections

October has come and gone, and I am grateful for a full month of meaningful ministry with Ascension & Holy Trinity. November is one of my favorite months with All Saints’ Day getting the month kicked off with both festivity and solemnity as we celebrate all the S/saints of God’s holy family. We remember those who’ve gone before us, and we live into the gift of God’s grace present to each of us, right here, right now. 

Gratitude is the other reason I cherish November. Most of us celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends the fourth Thursday in November. The last Thanksgiving had been challenging as we made decisions about travel and physical safety and all of the Covid concerns. Today my heart overflows with deep gratitude that vaccinations have been created with research and boosters and widespread availability. I love my spouse and children, and I am ever so grateful that we can safely be present with our parents/grandparents, uncles, aunts, and niece this year. I’m not taking time with extended family for granted. 

How do you practice gratitude? The writing of a daily gratitude list is one way to practice thanksgiving. Each morning I write three things for which I am grateful. This practice doesn’t take long to accomplish, and it gets my morning off to a positive, healthy beginning. Throughout the day I give thanks to those I encounter, whether the thanksgiving is in my mind, a simple handwritten note, email, or face to face acknowledgment of the ways I appreciate them. Humanity is hungry to be acknowledged. Expressing gratitude and appreciation to others is a small way to make the world a healthier, happy atmosphere. Gratitude expressed doesn’t need to cost a thing, either. 

Another gratitude practice is through praying the Daily Office, Morning, and Evening Prayer together.  As several of us pray Morning Prayer Monday through Friday at 9:00 am on our church Facebook page and Evening Prayer at 6:00 pm Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights, our prayers of gratitude and thanksgiving are welcomed, either aloud or silently. We offer these online prayers “aloud” by typing into the comments, then the officiant prays the prayer aloud for the group. Praying with folks online in this manner provides an easy way for me to picture our sisters and brothers in Christ and to offer thanksgiving for them. 

Offering an intentional time before a meal, not just dinner, is a way to practice gratitude. Walking along the sidewalks and offering thanks for those passing by is another way to practice gratitude. Frustrated doing house chores or work tasks you don’t enjoy? I try giving God thanks for the family who wears the laundry I fold or for the ability to purchase the food we eat together as dishes are being cleaned. Reading or watching the news and getting antsy about the state of the world? Give thanks for the gift of a variety of news sources from which to choose. 

I find that the more I practice cultivating an attitude of gratitude, the more for which I am grateful. I was particularly grateful during our Ingathering Sunday with the fellowship afterward. Several folks stayed with us after worship to experience fellowship around food and videos. I appreciate all of the folks who took the time to offer videos and the videographers and editors. I’m appreciative of our Vestry and their leadership, of our year-round stewardship team, of all those who lead our worship, of our formation leaders and participants, of our outreach leaders and ministries, of the gorgeous music led by our minister of music and our music ministries, our preschool, all of our extraordinary staff, for those who were able to pledge and for those unable to pledge. You see where I’m going here? 

How will you cultivate an attitude of gratitude this November?

In God’s Grace,

Eric L. Miller+