The concept of thankfulness is important in Christianity, and can especially be seen in worship where songs and prayers of thankfulness and praise are an important feature.
Paul tells his readers to be thankful in all circumstances (I Thessalonians chapter 5 verse 18) and it is this conviction that everything is ultimately for good to those who love God that has sustained believers through the most dreadful trials.
Christians are thankful to God for many reasons firstly, and not least, for the gift of life itself. Seeing God as the Creator and Sustainer of all things naturally affects how one thinks of and treats the world and all that is in it. Here thankfulness is linked with the idea of stewardship, where mankind’s thankfulness is demonstrated by his good care of the world.
It is important to remember that the word “Eucharist” actually comes from the Greek word for thanksgiving (eucharistia). This core Christian act of worship is an act of thanksgiving for the death and resurrection of God’s Son which opened up the way of forgiveness to all mankind.
Saying thank you to other people is also important. The story of the ten lepers (Luke chapter 17:verses 11-19), in which only one came back to say thank you for his healing is a message for us all. Another practical outworking of thankfulness to God is generosity to other people ( Acts chapter 20 verse 35: the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ )
Thankfulness in School
- In schools there are many opportunities to be generous with time and support, and many people who work in schools or support them give above and beyond the call of duty. It is always important to remember to say thank you—especially for those things or those people that get taken for granted! Are opportunities to do this automatically built into the life of the school?
- Is saying “please and thank you” a matter of manners or a real sentiment in your school life?
- How is celebration and joyfulness built into the life of the school?
- Does the school encourage an appreciation of, and a thankfulness for, the benefits of education?
- How do pupils treat the adults such as cooks and playtime supervisors who are part of school life?
- How are pupils enabled to see the good things of life are a blessing and not a right?
- Are pupils encouraged to be thankful for more than just material possessions?
- The saying of Grace at school mealtimes (either in the dining hall or the classroom) is a practical and prayerful way of engaging with this Value. Do either of these figure in your day to day school life?
- The notion of thankfulness figures in many Christian worship songs which you may be using in collective worship. Have you audited your collective worship provision lately and looked at the balance of messages the songs proclaim?
- How are pupils encouraged to express their thankfulness in prayer e.g. prayer trees, extempore prayer in worship etc?
- Church schools may also include regular Eucharists in their pattern of worship (termly for example). Is this something you need to think about?
- Do you use worship as the vehicle for giving thanks for significant events in the life of the school?
- Is your worship celebratory, creative and joyful?
- Does the curriculum allow time to pause for “thankful moments” e.g. an opportunity to respond to the wonders of Creation?
- How Eco aware is your school? Thankfulness for Creation is more than the annual Harvest Festival celebration, it is also about caring for the environment and thinking about the products used and wasted in your school. In practical terms this may be seen in the Creation of vegetable plots, sensory gardens or even spiritual gardens.
- How are pupils helped to understand how interdependent we are on the skills and labours of other people throughout the world and to express appreciation for this?
- How are pupils helped develop the skills of giving thanks to members of the community and visitors e.g. through writing letters of appreciation?
- How do you express appreciation of all that staff members and volunteers do—especially when they have given far more than their contract requires?
- How do governors show their appreciation of the Headteacher and teaching staff?
- What would you include if you were to count your blessings?