By Rev. Jeff Gannon, Senior Pastor

Lent is the most difficult and rewarding time of the year for me. I look forward to Lent and I dread Lent all at the same time. Lent is a gift and a task. Lent is the 40 days (minus Sundays) of preparation for Easter. Historically, Christianity has emphasized that Lent is a miniature wilderness experience (Jesus in the wilderness for 40 days, the people in the wilderness for 40 years) – a time for self-reflection, self-examination, and appropriate preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.  A wiser one than I once said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Life is always worth it because life is always a gift from God; however, life can be so much more meaningful when one takes time to reflect, discern, grow, and yes, even be challenged.

My first Lenten challenge to myself and to you….the examined life always begins and ends with gratitude. For what, for whom are you thankful? And why?

I’ve heard it from our spiritual fathers and mothers, from Oprah, from countless numbers of persons including Dr. Oz that we all need to keep a gratitude journal. Independently of each other, they all say the same thing. To think gratitude is good, to write gratitude is better. In other words, taking time each day to name three reasons for being grateful is good for the body and soul!

Perhaps you saw the Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos game in KC on December 1st. Do you remember when the cameras caught Denver running back Knowshon Moreno crying during the closing notes of the national anthem?

Sports Illustrated had an article titled, “There’s A Story Behind Knowshon Moreno’s Tears.” It’s a great article for a lot of reasons. Many were curious in the least about Knowshon’s tears others were amazed by the amount of water pouring from his eyes.

“The tears?” Moreno is asked. “Not uncommon at all. It’s always been that way for me, all the way back to high school and college. During the anthem it’s always quiet and still, so I take in the moment and say a little prayer. Usually there’s no camera on me. I thank The Lord for letting me play the game. I thank Him for everything. I run through my whole life right there at that moment. Even the bad stuff.” There was plenty of bad stuff. He spent many a night in a homeless shelter in NYC with his father. You can read the article for the details except for one. Moreno said, “whatever we had, we’d eat. Bread and ketchup, I remember that. It was delicious at the time. I used to kill those sandwiches.”

Can you imagine having bread and ketchup every night for dinner? I can’t. And yet, the tears that December day were rooted in gratitude for having something to eat, even ketchup and bread.

I have a lot to learn about gratitude. I suspect I am not the only one.

Thank you Knowshon for reminding us that gratitude is foundational to the examined life that is certainly worth living.

– Jeff

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