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Being and doing.


It's nothing new, the debate about being and doing. The people over n the Psychology Department, perhap in the Religion Department as well, have been studying human dynamics for generations. Google "being and doing" and spend the rest of your life evaluating the 3,140,000,000 possibilities for further study. There are books, articles, charts, illustrations, and many colorful images depicting the brain networks that move us in so many directions. How our neural synapses ignite our being and doing modes is certainly beyond my pay grade. Somehow we humans have learned the arts of going through the motions, jumping through the hoops, and doing the right things to identify ourselves favorably. Many of my forty years as a pastor were on the treadmill of deciphering the elements of being church or doing church. Thank God I'm not the final judge of those things.

Last year our sweet daughter Elizabeth gave me a book. It was a long read because after the first few pages I knew it was to be studied and not simply read. It is Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service by Gary Sinise (Nelson Books, 2019). If his name is unfamiliar just remember Lt. Dan in the Forest Gump movie or his other roles in Apollo 13, Ransom, Truman, and many other screen, television, and stage productions. The Gary Sinise Foundation and his band The Lt. Dan Band have raised millions of dollars in support of American veterans, especially those wounded in way. in the Prologue he stated the purpose of the book---

There's a message I want to deliver in this book: I love my country and I'm grateful to be

an American. I know where my freedom comes from, and I do not take for granted the

sacrifices of those who provide it...I want this book to help spread a spirit of joy, tribute,

action, and ultimately gratefulness...It is my hope that as I share these stories from my

life you will be entertained, and maybe even inspired too---empowered to overcome

obstacles, embrace gratitude, and engage in service above self.

Grateful American (Nelson Books, 2019). page 9.

In telling his life story Sinise illustrated the mysterious dynamic of being and doing. His many acts of gratitude and giving thanks are the product of being grateful, or thankful. His genuine heart for veterans isn't working through a to-do list of expectations or seeking some level of self-gratification. He certainly speaks a different language than most Hollywood types, and actually receives no monetary compensation from the band or foundation. He is grateful. Being grateful propels him to acts of gratitude.

And, that's my Thanksgiving quibble. In our life times most of the boomer cohort have observed a national ebbing of Thanksgiving. Many calendars depict Halloween and Christmas as the seasonal consumer launch points, Thanksgiving marking one day. With Christians and churches lurking in culture war bunkers even the idea of being thankful to God is societal anathema. Thanksgiving is secondary because people are just not genuinely thankful. Acts of gratitude, even moments of worship, praise, and thankfulness, disappear from our to-do lists because a thankful spirit has faded from our hearts. Sad.

The anonymous author of Hebrews wrote about being thankful.

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful,

and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.

Hebrews 12: 28, NIV

His wording captures the being/doing dichotomy---"let us be thankful, and so worship God"---thankfulness produces thanksgiving. And, for me, that's a quibble that inspires, challenges and motivates. This week two spiritual power plays are happening---(1) what about life makes me truly thankful?, and (2) to whom is this thankfulness directed and expressed?

All in the prayerful hope that next Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, 2019, will find my being and doing spiritually ordered.

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