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Pastor's Column

Rejoice Always; The Question is, How?

Pastor’s Column

3rd Sunday of Advent

December 17, 2023


Rejoice always.

Pray without ceasing.

Render constant thanks.

Such is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Do not quench the Spirit!

                              1 Thessalonians 5:16


Photo by John Ivan Cocjin

Like many of you, this past weekend was spent writing Christmas cards, which is a kind of joyous penance. At the end of this long and rather arduous day, I had them all addressed and stamped and piled up on the floor by the chair; and next to this was a full cup of old coffee I had foolishly placed near there to take to the kitchen. Well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what happened next: the coffee ended up spilled all over the cards. I won’t put down in writing what I said next, but suffice it to say, it wasn’t anything like “rejoice always…render constant thanks!” Later, I realized I had missed an opportunity to give thanks in difficult circumstances.


          How many opportunities do you miss to give thanks in your life? These mini-disasters we have so often, (some of which are our own fault), are opportunities to rejoice and give thanks to God. God is never more glorified than when we give thanks, even a little if that’s all we can do, for something that is truly difficult for us.


Rejoice always; render constant thanks. Did you notice that Saint Paul makes a distinction between rejoicing and giving thanks? To be thankful is a choice, not an emotion. One can even be thankful while being down and depressed because thankfulness is not based on emotions at all. Rejoicing is an attitude that flows out of joy. It can’t be manufactured, because it is a gift of the Holy Spirit. We give thanks for specific things in our lives. We rejoice as a result of a gift of the Holy Spirit of joy.  Giving thanks, then, is a decision to keep pursuing gratitude and thanksgiving in all things (or, let’s get real here: at least more and more things!). To give constant thanks is not easy, but it really does open the gates of grace in our lives.


Do not quench the Spirit. Nothing kills the Spirit within us like complaining and ingratitude. If the Holy Spirit is not flowing in your life, maybe a commitment to using the language of praise would help. This is the best way to clean house.


This is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. If you are ever in doubt as to what God’s will for you is in a given situation, begin by praise, thanksgiving, and rejoicing, and don’t be surprised if the answers begin to appear.                                                                                                                       Father Gary .


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