Aloha Friday Message – November 28, 2014 – Grateful Stewards

1448AFC112814 – Grateful Stewards

Read it online here, please.

Psalm 138:1-2aI will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart, for you have heard the words of my mouth; in the presence of the angels I will sing your praise; I will worship at your holy temple.

1 Chronicles 16:34O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

angels-sing-1Some of you already know this is my favorite Psalm. Every time we use it as the Responsorial Psalm, I think about how wonderful it will be to stand at the entry to the Throne of God. There will be myriads and myriads of Angels serving and listening to God. I imagine the sounds of singing and shouts of praise coming from billions and trillions of angelic voices will be awe-inspiring. Thinking about it is, of course, only a glimmer of what it will truly be like. Whatever I can conceive about it is a pale and poorly-extended metaphor – a paltry parable – but still illustrative of the eminently elegant Glory of Heaven. The parable I can grasp; the reality mystifies and humbles me. Part of the Preface of the Eucharistic Prayer consists of the invitation to sing the Sanctus – the Holy, Holy – and reads,

“And so, Lord, with all the Angels and Saints, we, too, give you thanks, as in exultation we acclaim …” In this verse the word for angels in Hebrew is אֱלֹהִ֣ים  ‘elohiym {el-o-heem’}. It is a plural word which translates as rulers, judges, divine ones (hence in some translations “gods”), or angels. In the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, the word used is ἀγγέλων angelōn {ang’-el-on}. When I hear that, it seems to me that as we sing that ancient and sacred hymn of praise, we are singing along with the Angels – those myriads and myriads – as a sort of rehearsal for when we are among the saints in heaven. I love singing with the Angels! I am so very grateful to have a chance to sing with them here, in this world, knowing that soon and very soon I will go to see the King and sing to him in person. I choose to offer up that hymn of praise gratefully and joyfully; it’s not a matter of obligation at all because it is a moment of Joy. Here’s a little story about making choices. You might have heard before. It’s about a guy named J. J., and his friend.

   J. J. and I worked together building and repairing transmission towers for cellular networks. J. J. is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, “If I were any better, I would be twins!”

    He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, J. J. was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation. Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up and asked him, “I don’t get it! You can’t be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?”

    He replied, “Each morning I wake up and say to myself, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or … you can choose to be in a bad mood. I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or…I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or … I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life.

    “Yeah, right! It’s not that easy,” I protested.

    “Yes, it is,” he said. “Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It’s your choice how you live your life. You can be angry about what you don’t have or grateful for what you do have. I choose to be grateful. The more my life is filled with gratitude, the more I find for which to be grateful.”

    I reflected on what he said. Soon thereafter, I left the Tower Industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of merely reacting to it. Several years later, I heard that he was involved in a serious accident, falling some 60 feet from a communications tower. After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, he was released from the hospital with rods placed in his back. I saw him about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied, “If I were any better, I’d be twins! Hey! Wanna see my scars?”

    I declined to see his wounds, but I did ask him what had gone through his mind as the accident took place.
    “The first thing that went through my mind was the well-being of my soon-to-be born daughter,” he replied. “Then, as I lay on the ground, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live or…I could choose to die. I chose to live.”

“Weren’t you scared? Did you lose consciousness?” I asked.

    He continued, “The paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the ER and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read ‘he’s a dead man’. I knew I needed to take action.”

    “What did you do?” I asked. “Well, there was a big burly nurse shouting questions at me,” said J. J. “She asked if I was allergic to anything. ‘Yes,’ I replied. The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled,


    Over their laughter, I told them, “I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead!”

    He lived, thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude – his choice to be grateful instead of hateful. I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully. Attitude, after all, is powerful because it is our attitude that sets our altitude and that sets our capacity for gratitude. Gratitude is the first and most important characteristic of a Good Steward.

There are days, I confess, when J. J.’s attitude seems impossibly bright, even wacky or foolish. Those are the days when my own little pity party is running full bore and I’m a first-class curmudgeon. That is when I most need to sing with the Angels, and sure enough God sends one along in a friend, an email, or maybe a few measures of a well-loved hymn that mysteriously enters my mind. Sometimes, it takes a reminder that is less gentle such as an angry response to my grouchy behavior. I can choose not to be grouchy about what I don’t have or about having something I don’t want. I have often said “Happiness in not in having what you want, but in wanting what you have.” To that I would add, “And to be grateful for it – so grateful that you share it.” Of all the things I have, I am most grateful for the gift of Faith and  my faith is multiplied as my gratitude is multiplied. That always happens when I share my faith, especially with you, Beloved! Stewardship is caring for and sharing of the gifts that matter to others. Therefore let us choose grateful stewardship, Beloved, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for us.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving. We want you to know that we are thankful for your participation in the MBN. All of us who take the time to pray for, with, and about each other become a source of great blessing for each of us. As the Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 5:19-20 Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. May God be with you and may our Almighty Everliving God, or El Shaddai Olam, bless you always and all ways in all things both now and forever. Amen.


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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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