When I was little, I often remember my grandmother saying “thank God for small favors!” Now that’s a holy and pious thought, and I’ll have you know my grandmother was certainly holy and pious. But when she said it, it was usually because someone had just done the least they could possibly do, or something they should have done long ago. So the sense of the saying was more like, “could you spare it?” or “well, finally!” Still, I love that phrase, “thank God for small favors” because it reminds us that everything, no matter how big or small, is God’s gift to us, and we should be grateful for it.
One of the most important marks of the Christian disciple is thankfulness. St. Paul was a man of thanksgiving, and we see that theme often in his letters. He may berate his communities when they were missing the point, but he would always also praise them for their goodness, and see that as an opportunity to thank God for giving the community grace. Today, it’s the Corinthian Church that he is grateful for. This is the beginning of his letter to them, and so he greets them in the name of his fellow workers, and then notes the abundance of spiritual gifts that have been bestowed on them. Then clearly he says: “I give thanks to my God always on your account for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus…” Because it’s always God at work in the believer and never the believer all on his or her own. It’s grace, and we are thankful for grace.
God continues to work his grace in our communities as well. We see that faith in action in the many ministries of our parishes. But even more than that, we see that faith in action in our workplaces, communities, schools and homes. There is never a time when we are not disciples. We are grateful for God’s grace working in and through us in every situation. The word “Eucharist” means thanksgiving, and so the heart of even the most basic and solemn parts of our worship is thanksgiving. We are thankful for all favors, big and small!