This was the first thing that Phyllis said to me when our paths crossed on a side street in Wellsboro, PA one sunny day in May of last year. "What never looked so good?," I asked. "The flowers!" said Phyllis. In turn I asked her, "Phyllis, you mean to tell me that in your 90 years of living, the flowers have never looked so good any year before this one???" "Every year they hold more beauty to me than they did the year before," said Phyllis.
Now I know that Phyllis has had some difficult times in her life; but she carries such a deep sense of gratitude with her at all times that it is truly inspiring.
Her sense of gratitude reminds me of Jesus' prayerful response to one of the moments when his disciple's really 'get it.' The story, from chapter 10 of the book in the Bible called Luke says that "Jesus was filled with the joy of the Spirit of God, and he said, "God of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way."
This whole gratitude thing sounds like worship when Jesus does it and when Phyllis does it.
For many of us, if I say the word "worship" maybe your mind takes you to good memories of a large crowd of people gathered in a church building singing songs, praying prayers, and hearing a word of from the Bible. Then again, for those who have had bad experiences with a church community the word "worship" may sound like a dirty and off-putting word given these corporate connotations that often go along with it.
When we get right down to it though, to engage in worship is to orient our lives in relation with God.Worship happens when Phyllis is thanking God for the beauty of the natural world, for the people in her life, for life itself, and for every good thing that comes from God. I learned from Phyllis that one of the most profound acts of worship is to look into the eyes of another human being and say to them, "I thank God for you."
Is there a "Phyllis" in your life? I'd like to encourage you to enter your own experience of worship by taking a moment to thank God for him or her today.
Pastor Rich Hanlon