Grace Notes

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Time to give thanks

By Nancy Kennedy

(Note: This is my annual Thanksgiving psalm.)

Merciful God,

Every year at this time as I start to pen a psalm of Thanksgiving, I'm never quite sure where to begin or even how to approach you.

I have so little to lay at your feet. No grand deeds, no souls saved because of something I've said or done. Truth is, I'm feeling empty-handed and ashamed, aware of my unworthiness, yet confident of your great mercy.

O, how I cherish your mercy!

Thank you, Lord, that you welcome sinners, especially this sinner, time and time again. Thank you for 80-degree days and also for rain. For sunshine that penetrates and warms, for cold snaps that invigorate, for thunder that shakes the house.

Thank you, Lord, for text messaging and The Neurotic Housewife, for Dolphin fans, long-legged granddaughters, for cupcakes and coffee and the Bearcat who lives in my house.

Thank you for family and friends, shrimp and grits, Stacy and Clinton on "What Not to Wear." Thank you, Lord, for violin music and mandolins and meaningful hymns with words that speak to my heart - "God and sinners reconciled," "O to grace how great a debtor" and "Great is your faithfulness, Lord unto me."

Thank you, Lord, for your grace that binds me to yourself, for your hope that comforts, for the gifts of faith and repentance and your forgiveness that makes me whole.

You are holy and I am wholly yours. Even when all my thoughts and words and actions seem otherwise and I'm fighting to live my life without you, at the end of the day (and even at the start) I know I have nowhere else to go.

Like Peter said, "You alone have the words of eternal life." You alone are eternal life. Thank you, Lord, that you've chosen to give that life to me.

The world is scary, Lord. It's dark and getting darker. But you are light, my light, and you light my way, one step at a time. Thank you, Lord, that your light will never be extinguished - and that it shines brightest in the darkness.

Thank you, Lord, for Skechers shoes and soft cardigan sweaters, for silence and stillness, wonder and awe - and the Food Network. Thank you for conviction of sin, comfort in sadness and clarity in confusion. Thank you for answers to prayer, even the answers I can't see and are still waiting for.

This year, Lord, you've withheld and taken away. You've edited and sifted my life, removing the dross and chaff. Although I don't like it, I still give you thanks for you say to give thanks in all things, that this is your will for me.

So, thank you, Lord, for even that which you withhold and take away, for your loving discipline and severe mercy, because that's when I turn to you and am reminded once again that you are God and I'm not.

Thank you, Lord, for reminding me, for reassuring me, that I don't have to try to take your place because I can't. Thank you, Lord, for your patience in my foolishness. Thank you for your kindness that leads to repentance and your love that will not let me go my own way.

Thank you for the word that says neither death nor life, angels nor demons, fears for today nor worries about tomorrow - not even the powers of hell can separate your people from your love that's revealed in Christ (Romans 8:38-39).

Thank you for the bread and wine of communion, the body and blood of your Son. Thank you for wisdom, for cooling breezes, the rhythm of ocean waves, for your constancy in a changing world, stability and sanity, truth, tranquility, peace and safety.

In your name is power and life, rescue, restoration and redemption. You still storms and heal the sick. You hold back the oceans and raise the dead. Mountains crumble before you and kingdoms fall.

To the One who holds the universe in his hands and laughs at the plans of evil men, to the One who calls me child, beloved and friend - to you be all thanks, all honor and glory, forever and ever. Amen.