“When the day of Pentecost came, “all the believers were gathered together in one place. “Suddenly there was a noise from the sky “which sounded like a strong wind blowing, “and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. “Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire “which spread out and touched each person there. “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit “and began to talk in other languages, “as the Spirit enabled them to speak.” Acts 2:1-4
Have you ever watched something catch fire? Perhaps at bonfire night or at a BBQ or sadly as a house or forest burns. The flames get hold of everything in their track and become a powerful force that overwhelms everything they touch.
I want to suggest that gratitude is a force like that. Saying “thank you” and offering appreciation to another is a powerful thing to do and it’s touch can overwhelm an other in a transforming way.
Over the years in my work with children I have spent, as many teachers, carers and parents and grandparents also do, so much time and effort making sure they learn to always say “please” and “thank you”. These basic components of respect literally open the doors of relationship in our families and in our communities. When we say “please” we are acknowledging that we are asking an other to do something to help us and that they do not have to; their response will be a gift to us and for that gift, the next logical response required from us is to say “thank you”. Children have to be taught this again and again and reminded when they do not say it but eventually, when they offer a “please” or “thank you” without being told, it softens the heart of even the most cynical adult.
Sadly, doing that teaching and reinforcing with children so much makes you tune in to how little some adults show respect and express gratitude. Unfortunately, it’s not really acceptable or advisable to remind adults that they have forgotten to say “please” and “thank you” but sometimes this still needs addressed. One of the biggest causes of people feeling angry and frustrated in their work or in their church comes from interactions that have made them feel undervalued and unappreciated. Do we just expect people to give and to do in our church? Do we assume they need no thanks? Do we find it hard to express to them directly, not to others, that they have done a good job or gone the extra mile?
Pentecost marks the birth of the church – how did the church start having a culture where people erred on the side of caution that interpreted “hide you light under a bushel” to mean to not be proud and be full of humility therefore stopping saying thank you? If we are taught to praise God in our faith practises then why would we not find healthy ways to praise each other?
If you are truly grateful for something today – say it out loud. If you notice someone doing something lovely or meaningful today, find a way to let them know it was appreciated.
If we do not give feedback, how will people know that what they are doing has made a difference? Let’s fan the flames of Pentecost among the believers today and see how being respectful and grateful spreads like wild fire.
Today’s prayer (the prayer of Pope Francis)
Do we want to be heard? Let us first listen.
Do we need encouragement? Let us give encouragement.
Do we want someone to care for us? Let us care for those who are alone and abandoned.
Do we need hope for tomorrow? Let us give hope for today.