Recognising Our Blessings

St Michael’s Vicarage
Alnwick

Dear People of Alnwick,

All of us take so much for granted. If we wake up in the darkness of the night, we can stretch out an arm and, at the flick of a switch, we have light. If we come home from work or shopping on a cold winter’s day we can be pretty certain that the central heating will provide us with a warm, cosy house. If we suddenly decide it would be nice to have a chat with a friend or relative, we pick up our mobile ’phone and, hey presto, we’re texting or speaking to them within seconds – whether they live in Seahouses or Seattle!

And then there are all the wonderful ways in which our medical professionals and the National Health Service (with all its shortcomings) help life to be free from pain and discomfort – or at least alleviate some of its worst excesses.

But it’s not only technical and medical advances in recent years which, generally speaking, go to make our life a pleasant existence. Just call to mind the sight of a glorious sunset over the Northumberland coast or the joy we derive from witnessing the excitement of a child on Christmas morning.

To our shame, we often give little more than a nodding acknowledgement – if that – to the wonders, the miracles of daily life.

All this comes to mind because of a conversation I had a short while ago with a Roman Catholic nun. She was asking me about my life and background and I expressed to her how fortunate I believed I had been in having a loving, stable family, a happy and contented childhood, the benefits of a good education, a rewarding time in my previous profession as an accountant, a wonderfully fulfilling experience of Christian ministry and priesthood and then, more recently, the joy and companionship of married life. “In short,” I declared, “I’ve had a charmed existence.”

“Surely you mean your life has been richly blessed” she replied.

And, of course, she was exactly right – and incredibly perceptive! Furthermore, she made me realise the need to acknowledge the source of such blessedness. Not only were the opportunities that I have had (and continue to have) God-given, but the motivation and the energy I needed (and need) to respond to them also come from that same God who gives and sustains all life.

Often, at the Eucharist we say: “Yours, Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the splendour and the majesty; for everything in heaven and on earth is yours. All things come from you, and of your own do we give you.” (1 Chronicles 29:11)

Perhaps we should consider making this acknowledgement of God’s repeated intervention in our lives part of our daily prayers. Indeed, if thankfulness to God for all his blessings were to be an ongoing part of each Christian life, how different the world might be!

To get back to my old “soapbox” it’s all about seeing glasses as half-full rather than half-empty. Let’s all make an effort to recognise the blessings which are ours each hour and each day – and, having recognised them, let’s give thanks not only in our prayers but in our manner of life and in our dealings with one another.

In the words of George Herbert – which I know I’ve quoted to you before:

“Lord, who has given so much to me;
give one thing more, a grateful heart.”

With every blessing,
Paul

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