Posts Tagged poverty

Why gratitude may be the best gift under the tree this year – Jeff Brumley

If you’re reading this story on the new laptop or tablet or phone you just got for Christmas, be thankful.

But don’t forget also to be grateful, which, many spiritual leaders say, is not necessarily the same thing.

“We are taught repeatedly to be grateful when we have material gain, so it should come as no surprise that we wake up one day thinking people with more material possessions are more grateful,” said Joshua Hearne, abbot and director of Grace and Main Fellowship, an intentional Christian community devoted to hospitality, prayer and grassroots community development in Danville, Va.

“Our culture has taught us that gratitude is a bland cheerfulness that is all too often connected with financial security,” he said.

Rather, gratitude is a spiritual practice that, like other disciplines, requires daily attention. And its focus is on a growing awareness and experience of grace that may or may not be inspired by material blessings.

“In our experience, gratitude multiplies,” said Hearne, who serves as field personnel for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

Those who cultivate gratitude, he added, “will not only be grateful for the thing itself, but they’ll be grateful for their own gratitude.”

Scarlette Jasper has seen that phenomenon firsthand.

Jasper is director of Olive Branch Ministries, which serves the homeless population, working poor and those experiencing medical crises, financial devastation and domestic violence in a 10-county area around Somerset, Ky.

The holidays always add a level of financial and emotional stress for most of the clients her ministry serves. It’s especially tough when children are involved.

“I had one call me last week saying the kids are asking ‘are we getting a tree?’” said Jasper, who also serves as CBF field personnel.

Likewise, there are more calls for help providing gifts and food.

“You just see the need increase,” she said.

But the gratitude also increases — even among the poorest people Jasper encounters.

Scarlette Jasper

“The families I work for are grateful for … the littlest things I do to brighten their day.”

It’s especially true for those struggling through medical challenges. People sitting with very ill or dying loved ones seem to be able to pull from a deep well of thanks for even the tiniest of moments of togetherness.

“They don’t have huge expectations,” Jasper said. “They are just appreciative … for the time they have together.”

Hearne said it isn’t necessary to feel sorry for people facing such challenges at Christmas. Doing so reveals a disturbing theology.

“This time of year it’s common to talk about how blessed we are and how sorry we feel for those who are doing without, assuming that material wealth is a mark of God’s favor or the value of a person,” he said.

Those who simultaneously experience poverty and gratitude, likewise, are not doing so despite their circumstances, Hearne said.

“It has little to do with their poverty. They just choose to practice gratitude.”

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Thankful Thursday – The Rev. Bruce Jayne

On this Thankful Thursday, I am grateful for the gifts that Bruce Jayne brings to my life. Bruce is a native of Mississippi and a graduate of the University of Mississippi. After graduation he entered the Navy for five years and served as the protestant coordinator for the chaplain. He met wife Sarah Turner while stationed in Florida. She is a Carson Newman University graduate. After his navy tour he entered the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where he studied with renowned professors including Dr. Glenn Hinson,  who spoke at the Hamrick Lectures. He was a classmate of the Rev. Dr. Thomas McKibbens, who also spoke at the Hamrick Lectureship. Bruce and Sarah are tireless community workers in the areas of social justice and poverty issues. He is a licensed pastoral counselor and both are active at Circular Congregational Church. Bruce retired as director of the pastoral counseling program at Roper/St. Francis Hospital. Bruce is a mainstay of the Monday Lunch Bunch at the S&S Cafeteria. I get the privilege of prodding him with many thorny theological questions which he always answers with grace. On this Thankful Thursday, I am very blessed to have Bruce Jane in my life.

Thankful Thursday is a day set apart to recognize the importance of someone to our lives and to let her or him know of our gratitude. Develop an attitude of gratitude. Say Something Nice; Be a lifter. You will be glad that you did.

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Thankful Thursday – Sue Murner

On this Thankful Thursday, I am grateful for the gifts that Sue Murner brings to my life.  Sue is the only finance committee chairperson at a church I have ever known to get spontaneous rounds of applause for her thoroughness and openness. She grew up in Summerville, graduated from Limestone University, taught school in Savannah but traded that in for a career as a lab technician at the Medical University of South Carolina. Sue is a great volunteer both at church and in the community. She traveled with us to the First New Baptist Covenant Meeting in Atlanta three years ago. We had a great time in addition to hearing terrific speeches. Sue followed me as a member on a community committee that sought to change the laws that tend to keep those in poverty in poverty – not simply to put another bandage on the problem. Whatever Sue tackles she is faithful to the task. She is always willing to help. I am always a bit relieved when I see Sue in a meeting. Sue has a great sense of humor. She is a great encourager. I was privileged to know Sue’s mother who was a delightful lady. On this Thankful Thursday, I am grateful for the gifts that Sue Murner brings to my life.

Thankful Thursday is a day set aside to recognize the importance of someone to our lives and to let her or him know of our gratitude. Develop an attitude of gratitude. Say Something Nice; Be a Lifter. You will be glad that you did.

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