i Thank You God

by Ken Dale

Colossians 3:12-17

I had a fight with my computer in the office this past Monday morning. It wouldn?t let me type the sermon title in as I wanted to. It insisted that the i be uppercase ? no matter what I did it would make it upper case. So I had to fool it and I typed lower case w and h and i?and then deleted the w and h.? Hah! Even the computer thinks the first person singular is most important. The idea for the title comes from a poem by e.e. Cummings. And the point is in the title ? the lower case i and emphasis on the upper case You God!

i thank You God

i thank You God for most this amazing

day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees

and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural

which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today

and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth

day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay

great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing

breathing any–lifted from the no

of all nothing–human merely being

doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and

now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

This past Tuesday I attended a day long symposium at Colby that featured, Dr. Ira Byock, a physician who has done much in the area of palliative and hospice care. Workshops were offered in between the two keynotes Dr. Byock delivered. One of the workshops I attended was on Finding our Spiritual Strengths. The presenter spoke of how people can choose their attitudes and how important it is because if we choose a peaceful and loving way to be it actually has a positive physical result in our bodies. I didn?t write the details?down but making that choice actually causes a chemical release from the wall of our gut that stimulates the immune system. He spoke of the body pharmaceutical. While I?m pretty sure the Apostle Paul did not know about the body pharmaceutical, consider the attitude he speaks of in the lesson shared this morning from Colossians 3. Paul is speaking of the new life in Christ and he writes, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience. Those are all relational virtues and mark how we think and behave toward one another in community. But they are also good for us individually as well ? bound to stimulate our immune systems.

?Paul continues ? Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. It was interesting how Dr. Byock?s Tuesday afternoon keynote tied in so well with our scripture for this morning – which Jane and I actually decided on over a week ago. (yes ? we need to be very careful this morning ? we?ve left the lectionary two weeks in row?.) Dr. Byock spoke with wonderful humor about how attentive we are to our physical life ? all the tests we endure (I?ll spare you the details but just think about the ones you?ve had). And how attentive we are to our diets ? he said ?we eat fiber?until flatulence threatens our relationships.? But what about the spiritual? I picked up a couple of his books and one of them is The Four Things that Matter Most. The first two are about forgiveness: ?Please forgive me? and ??I Forgive You.? — our need to ask for forgiveness and our need to give it.? He noted how difficult yet important it is that we do ? most especially forgiving ourselves. The other two are ?Thank you? and ?I love you.? He shared four statements of practical wisdom. 1. ?Human beings are imperfect. And a side note, he also mentioned that we grew up as ?human doings? and not ?human beings.? 2. The things that matter most to people are other people. We are hard-wired to matter to one another. 3. Relationships are imperfect. And?you can only take care of your side of a relationship. 4. ?Healing is possible. And believing that, increases the possibility of it happening. He said that forgiveness is not letting the past control the future. Paul emphasizes the importance of forgiveness and ties it directly to our being forgiven by God. So we need to forgive one another. It is an important part of spiritual self-care.

Paul continues in our lesson, Above all clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. ?Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts?.and be thankful. Be thankful! I read that thankfulness is the gift of God to the church in Jesus Christ and thankfulness is our response to God for that gift. If the word of Christ does indeed dwell in us we?are filled with gratitude and doesn?t that gratitude almost automatically move us to sing? And so Paul writes: with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God! The emphasis is on God. And so in e.e. cummings poem that I is lower case and You God is upper case ? the emphasis is on God: i thank You God for most this amazing day for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes?

Think about that wonderful gift of music ? and think of cummings? words expressing thanks to God ?for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes ?— are not all those things including our thankfulness to God ? expressed in such a powerful way through music ? yes, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs ? if we but pay attention to the words we sing and keep ourselves open to letting the music ? even the music we sing ? speak to us and through us ? all to the glory of God with gratitude for life ? and ?this amazing day.? Let every instrument be tuned for praise! Let all rejoice who have a voice to raise! And may God give us faith to sing always.?? Alleluia! Amen.