Do You See What I See?
The song “Count Your Blessings” is a favorite childhood hymn. The first verse says, “When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed, when you are discouraged thinking all is lost, count your many blessings name them one by one and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.” When I was young I had no idea what it meant to be tempest tossed but I knew it was something that was so terrible that it made you want to count every good thing that ever happened in your life. The world is a scary place and bad things happen to good people. When we get hurt or disappointed it causes us to look at the world through dark sunglasses. Our outlook on becomes dim. It is only those with a commitment to looking at life with a sense of thankfulness (not necessarily through rose colored glasses) and gratitude, can see the world in a different light.
There is a quote from Meister Eckhart which says, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you that will be enough.” For most of us “thank you” probably won’t be our entire prayer, but we should spend time in prayer thanking God for what we have rather than always asking for help. If we want to grow strong in our faith, we must begin by having a heart of gratitude. So how do we learn to count our blessings amidst the regular challenge and turmoil of our lives? We must develop an attitude of gratitude that sees the glass half full rather than half empty. This way of thinking or looking at things helps us to change our perception.
This brings to mind another favorite song that I loved to sing at Christmas time. The song “Do You Hear What I Hear?” is mistakenly assumed to be a Christmas carol, but the truth is it was written as a protest song during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. The songwriter, challenged listeners in this popular song to see the world differently in the midst of war. He was able to pen a powerful plea for peace because he had experienced the horrors of war during Hitler’s regime. A refrain from the song rings in my ears “Pray for peace, people everywhere…”
With these songs in mind I challenge all of us to count our blessings and to look at our lives through a different lens. What do you see when you look at our church? Do you see a church in despair? Do you see what I see, the church triumphant, and the church of Jesus Christ? I see a church that continues to come together for worship through difficult and changing times. I see a church that is still willing to try and is still holding open its doors for whoever wants to come in. I see a church that is still giving, still loving each other and still singing songs of praise to God in the midst of uncertainty.
We are a blessed congregation and blessed people! Collectively we have more wealth than most people in many parts of the world. Our church doors are still open and we are still worshipping together in the same building. Unfortunately, many of our Christian brothers and sisters cannot say the same.
The First Presbyterian Church of Levittown is celebrating its 65th anniversary this year! As we approach this milestone in our congregation, I ask that you count the many l blessings that you have experienced in this church. When you finish counting your blessings take time to thank God for the wonderful memories and moments where you met God and friends here. Then ask God to open your eyes and to help you see this worshipping community in a different light. Ask God to give you a renewed faith and a restored hope that this church will be around for at least another 65 years.
I am asking all who love and care about this church to attend our 65th anniversary spaghetti dinner on November 2nd from 4 – 8pm. We are inviting the community to come celebrate with us. I am also asking all who are able and willing to donate a love offering of $65 in honor of our church that the work of Christ may continue. We have been blessed by the labor of love of those who have gone before us. Now, it is now our turn to continue the legacy by giving of our time and talent to maintain this wonderful faith community for the next generation.
Yours in Christ,
Reverend Terri Ofori,