Preaching Connection: Gratitude

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Movies for Preaching

American Beauty (1999) – 2

Written by Alan Ball. Starring Kevin Spacey, Annette Benning, Wes Bentley, Mena Suvari, and Chris Cooper. 122 mins. Rated R (graphic language and sexual situations). In the film, American Beauty, though most of the focus is on Kevin Spacey’s Lester, we also meet Ricky Fitts (Wes Bentley), the weird boy next door and perhaps the…

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American Beauty (1999) – 1

Written by Alan Ball. Starring Kevin Spacey, Annette Benning, Wes Bentley, Mena Suvari, and Chris Cooper. 122 mins. Rated R (graphic language and sexual situations). So mid-life Lester (Kevin Spacey) has got himself into a horrible, very bad fix. Though a husband and father, he has fallen, as through a trap-door, into a state of…

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Reading for Preaching

“Gratitude Grows as Salutary Habit”

“For many Americans, Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday. Gathering at the table with family and friends in memory-filled tradition. Plenty of soul-satisfying food. And, the special feeling that comes from sharing gratitude. ‘Thanksgiving has always been a favorite: It’s a time for gratitude and a holiday we haven’t messed up!’ says Susan Kirby, a California...
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“God and a Grateful Old Man,” from My God and I: A Spiritual Memoir

I learned long ago that if anything can be better than getting a gift, it is the gratitude we feel for getting it. There is no other pleasure to compare with it–not sex, not winning a lottery, not hearing lovely music, not seeing stunning mountain peaks, nothing. Gratitude beats them all. I have never met...
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“God and a Grateful Old Man,” from My God and I: A Spiritual Memoir

“I have two main feelings toward God these days: gratitude and hope. Both feelings keep slipping in and out of my spirit, one on the heels of the other. When gratitude comes, hope is right behind. If I am feeling grateful to God for the gifts he has given me, I at once start hoping...
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Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

‘. . . for some of us, books are as important as almost anything on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet and excite you. Books help us to understand how we...
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Additional content related to Gratitude

Psalm 17:1-9

Those of you who read the Psalm sermon commentaries here on CEP know that I frequently observe that different psalms fit different seasons of life.  And so we always have to nuance upbeat songs of praise with the downbeat psalms of lament such that no one in the church gets the impression that true believers…

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Luke 17:11-19

From standing at a distance asking for mercy to coming right up to his feet and lying prostrate with praise, our healed leper goes on quite the journey. The other lepers who are healed do too, of course, but they take a different direction upon the revelation that they are healed. I don’t want to…

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Psalm 113

In Robert Duvall’s film, The Apostle, we see a vignette of what could be described as a very “in your face” style of praise.  The revival worship services of a certain stripe of Deep South fundamentalism are high-decibel, foot-stomping, hand-clapping, gizzard-piercing spectacles that are most decidedly not for the faint of heart! And yet, in…

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Joshua 5:9-12

These four verses from Joshua 5 are rather innocuous looking.  There is a lot of high drama in Joshua—and not a little of that drama is the stuff of deeply troubling matters involving holy war and total war and violence perpetuated by God’s people.  But these verses appear to be mostly devoid of drama.  They…

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2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16

It would be very difficult to pick a more fitting text for this last Sunday of Advent.  After focusing with ever growing intensity on the coming of God’s salvation, we are just 5 days away from our celebration of the birth of the long-promised Messiah. This text is “the mother of all Messianic prophecies,” “the…

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Luke 18:9-14

“I am so glad that Jesus loves me, Jesus loves me, Jesus loves ME!” “How vast the benefits divine which WE in Christ possess!” “Blessed assurance, Jesus is MINE!” We sing such sentiments in church all the time.  So before we get all squinty-eyed in regarding the Pharisee in Luke 18 as the quintessential spiritual…

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Genesis 45:3-11, 15

The theme for this Sixth Sunday of Epiphany is the same in all four Lections—reversal of fortune.  Psalm 37 and Luke 6:27-38 talk about loving enemies, thus reversing the usual response to those who abuse us.  I Corinthian’s 15:35-50 expounds the great doctrine of the resurrection of the body, which reverses the apparent victory of…

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Colossians 3:12-17

The Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s Day is a good day to find a guest preacher to fill in for you. I mean, after all the hoopla of the holidays, people are exhausted and after exploring the depths and heights of the Incarnation. So is the preacher. What do you say on this first…

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