The Psalm that we heard today, is a Psalm of thanksgiving to God, it is also known as a kingship Psalm. In the Psalm, we see recognition of the might of God. But as I contemplated this idea of a song to God, I was brought to ask the question: “Does it really count as a song of thanksgiving if our daily lives and actions do not reflect the meaning behind those words?” I was inspired to think about the hypocrisy many secular people see in the faithful this week. As faithful people we all struggle to follow the example of Jesus from time to time. But what I propose is that we try to live our lives as a song of thanksgiving through our actions. We should allow our lives to reflect the song upon our hearts. But to do this we really need to take a hard look at our lives and ask ourselves, “What would it take to make my song of thanksgiving match the actions of my hands?”
I met an individual while on rounds at the hospital where I did my internship in 2007. His life story left me inspired and although he was preparing to be discharged he took his time and talked to me for hours. He shared with me his life story. He grew up in a bad area of Hartford. His father had been murdered in a drug deal gone badly when he was a teenager. So he quit school and became a drug dealer as well to support his mother. In time, he joined a gang in the search for support and community. Soon he found himself, living with his girlfriend, addicted to drugs and preparing to bring a child into the world. He was to become a father to a son and he was fearful that his own child might fall into the same life story that he had.
He said that he had always believed in God, his mother raised him to be a faithful person, but that his life hadn’t reflected his love for God. His life actions did not reflect the honor he secretly held for God. So one day he woke up and decided to live another life. He made the conscious effort to make his life a living reflection of his song of thanksgiving. He left the gang and went through rehab and now works to help at risk teens and those who have similar life stories to realize that there are always other options out there. There are better ways of living life.
The most inspirational part of his story is that before he goes to sleep each night he takes an evaluation of his day to see if he had done something to honor God that day. We can sing our hymns of thanksgiving on Sunday mornings, we can say our prayers each morning and night, but our faith calls us to do more; our God calls us to action. Our God calls us to reflect the faith that is in our hearts. A close friend of ours was raised Catholic, attending Catholic schools as a young child. He has always said to me that he does not attend church because most people who claim to be faithful do not live the lives of faithful people. He is not the only one I have met who feels this way.
We are encouraged by our scriptures to live our praise, to live our gratitude to God. Last week, we talked about giving back grace. Today we talk about how to make our lives a song of thanksgiving. Our scriptures from Psalms this morning speak of the majesty of God. But our scriptures from John show Jesus before Pilate living his faith, living into God’s work even though he was in mortal danger. He revealed to Pilate, “For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth”. Jesus sacrificed himself in his gratitude for God’s love of humanity. He lived his gratitude.
We too are called to live our dedication to Christ’s way, which means we dedicate ourselves to serving those who are less fortunate. We are called to dedicate ourselves to making our world a better place to live in. Our actions are a more powerful form of gratitude than our words. We are encouraged to evaluate our lives, our days, like the man from the hospital. We need to take stock of our lives and realign them to match with our faith and the work we are called to in our hearts. If you are feeling as if your lives do not reflect your faith in God, then find the work that will do that for you. It is never too late.
If we follow the commands of God then we are guaranteed to be living our song of thanksgiving. The Ten Commandments call us to honor our parents and Christ called us to extend our understanding of family to honor our neighbors. In the act of honoring, we care for, we reach out in concern, we work for their good, that type of honor is a living praise to our God. If we live our lives into these simple commands then we are living the song of thanksgiving that rests upon our hearts. We don’t need to able to sing, or hold a tune to participate in this song. The only requirement is that we hold love in our hearts for God and others and that we place that love first in our lives and in our world. It is never too late to live into these commandments. It is never too late to reevaluate what we hold important in life. God just asks that more than once a year, that more than once a week, we think about forming our actions to show our thanks for his graciousness to us and our communities. In a world, that is experiencing so much hate, terror, and pain we could use more people acting out of love and care rather than fear and hate. We could use more people working together to make this world a better, safer place to live.
 John 18: 37, RSV.