Just a Thought or Two

The Power of Giving Thanks

Author: Mark Fenstermacher
November 24, 2021

There is a black and white photograph of a Greek boy holding a pair of new shoes he had been given in the hard days following the end of World War II. That photo comes to mind every time I think about living a life dominated by gratitude and thanksgiving. 

One of the most powerful forces in the universe is the power of thanks-giving. I’ve stood on the ground in Zimbabwe, so close to Victoria Falls that the mist from the watery thunder soaked me from head to toe, so close that the ground shook beneath my feet, and yet the power of those falls are nothing compared to the power of thanks-giving.

I’ve seen people who focus on the blessings of each day set free from a life of negativity, fear, anxiety, jealousy and regret. 

There are deep down decisions we all have to make about who we are and who we will be, and one of these decisions has to do with whether we will live lives of gratitude for what we have received or bitterness over what we have missed. It is easy to go through life counting what we don’t have rather than what we have, but that way of living defeats us.

The first generations of Christians lived in an age of hardship. The apostle Paul, himself, had suffered through rejection, beatings, imprisonment, and shipwreck. Yet he wrote to the Easter people in 1st Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

If you find yourself haunted by resentment, anger, and jealousy because you keep counting up what you wanted and didn’t get, I invite you to ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes so you can see what you have: little things or big things.

Despite some shadows of regret and sadness that occasionally move across the landscape of my life, this afternoon I am thankful for:

  • Late afternoon sunlight.
  • The music of Bach and the song “Walking Through Memphis” by Marc Cohn.
  • The picture of a 5 year old in the back of an SUV, wearing a turkey hat, with a caption that says: “Here we come. Wagons west!”
  • The witness and life of Rachel Held Evans.
  • Fields filled with abundance reminding me of the God who provides.
  • An amazing team that blesses me with their faithfulness and creativity.
  • Hot water coming out of the shower head, a furnace that works, and food in the refrigerator.
  • The God who surprises us, again and again, with God’s Presence...whose grace never lets go of us.

I’ve watched what thanks-giving and gratitude can do, when we let God bring us awake and open our eyes to all the blessings in our lives, and it is an amazing, powerful, life-changing, ground-shaking thing.

Let us give thanks!


  • Join us this Sunday for worship at 8:45 or 10:45 (online or in-person) as we begin our Advent series Close to Home. Some other things to know:
  • Pick up your Advent devotional. An amazing resource that will help center you in God, open your heart and mind to the miracle of the Christ Child’s coming, and make this season a life-changing time for you.
  • Join us for Christmas City. This is an online experience, by Ally Musselman, which can do at home with your child(ren). Pick up your Christmas City bag at the church.
  • If you have not yet turned in your Invitation to Generosity card, you can do that this coming week. Thanks to all who have given with such devotion!
  • Remember to RSVP for the catered Birthday Party for Jesus set for December 19 between worship services from 9:45-10:30.
  • It’s not too late to join with so many others by donating goods to our community pantries. Brown Bag Sunday was a big success - thanks to all who gave so generously!
  • If you haven’t given, pick up a brown paper bag at church with a listing of the needed items.
  • It’s been a long two years with the pandemic, and this year we will be able to join together in-person for Christmas Eve services.  Invite a friend, neighbor, co-worker, or family member to join you at one of our services: 4:30, 7:30 and/or 11 (cantata).

It is a joy sharing life and ministry with you.

In Christ and for Christ,
Pastor Mark


First United Methodist Church
1203 E. Seventh Street | Auburn, IN 46706
office@auburnumc.church | 260.925.0885