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Gratitude is a Means of Grace

My first, truly heartfelt communication of the day with God is a prayer of gratitude. I am not a morning person. I would rather rise at the crack of 9:30 or so every day. School and life and work forces me to be awake much earlier than that most days. It’s sometimes hard to be grateful when I’d prefer mightily to stay in bed, but there is one thing that draws a prayer of gratitude from me and gets me going in the right direction.

Coffee. Coffee that I prepared the night before with my favorite already-ground fair trade coffee beans, purchased from Costco. Coffee that my sweet husband gets brewing with the mere push of a button before I have to get up so it’s ready when I stumble into the kitchen. Coffee enhanced with the right amount of white and sweet and just a touch of salt to cut the bitterness.

Ah. At the very first sip of the elixir of life, I breathe an identical prayer each morning. Thank you, God, for coffee. It comes out of me without my thinking; in truth, it has to, because I’m incapable of thinking at that time. It’s like that old Sonic commercial where the guy says that a particular breakfast item from Sonic makes it worth getting up in the morning. His wife replies rather sarcastically that she would have thought she and the kids would make it worth getting up in the morning. I’m with Mr. Sonic (sorry, guys).

WARNING: thematic whiplash ahead. Stay with me and it will all make sense. As much as it ever does.

The Means of Grace-a rather religious, potentially pompous sounding term, is actually quite simple: an instrument or practice that leads to experiencing the grace of God. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Movement that became The United Methodist Church, outlined seven practices that lead to one experiencing God’s grace: scripture study, worship, Christian conversation, receiving holy communion, prayer, fasting, and acts of mercy.

Now, I am not a Wesley scholar, but I understand that John may have been what we might describe as pretty tightly wound (I mean, who wouldn’t be with all of those early mornings!). So, I submit that John missed at least one very important, simple, practical way to experience God’s grace. No, not coffee, but coffee is a means to the means of grace. I mean, gratitude.

Gratitude is both a practice and a posture. It is the act of being grateful, appreciative, and expressing thanks for the good in our lives. Gratitude is a means of grace because it helps me focus on God’s abundance rather than our scarcity, both real and perceived. Gratitude focuses my attention on my strong legs that are able to carry me where I need to go today rather than the unwanted extra padding they wear. It reminds me that I am the frequent recipient of so much more than I deserve, even when I don’t always get what I want. And when times are hard and finding something to be grateful for harder, it helps me remember that in less than 12 hours (usually) I will be in my pajamas ready for rest. And in less than a day, I will receive the gift of coffee and the grace of gratitude that comes with it.

Whatever your circumstances today, may you know the grace of God that comes from gratitude. And coffee. And good friends. And singing. And good work to do. And…