25th February – Terence Russoff

thankfulDear Friends,

On the evening of Sunday 18th February, with all its customary ritual and glitz, the annual BAFTA Awards ceremony was held to acknowledge and reward the best films over the last year. In steady succession, the various winners trooped up to the stage to receive their award and make their, often emotional, acceptance speech.

Three things struck me. First, I’d clearly missed some good films over the past year. Second, I’d never heard of some of the ‘stars’ – I must get out more! And third, what people say in their acceptance speeches is really telling.

A few use their speeches as a platform for making some political or social comment on this or that hot topic of the moment. But for most, the speech is a catalogue of thanks as the actor or actress reels off of a long list of names, without whom they wouldn’t have won … ranging from directors to production designers to dolly grip holders and all myriad of other behind the scenes workers on a film set.

One particularly noteworthy winner was Daniel Kaluuya (the ‘Rising Star’ award) who pointedly and emotionally thanked his mum for her unstinting support and encouragement.

These film industry award ceremonies can be cliched and over the top, but there is something for us to take to heart. For these winners in some ways reflect the Bible’s teaching on thankfulness and where that ranks in our hearts.

In the opening to Paul’s first letter to the young Thessalonian church, he writes “we always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers” (1 Thessalonians 1 v2). While in the opening to Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he writes, “I thank God, whom I serve … as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers” (2 Timothy 1 v3).

Paul clothes everything he does in thanksgiving, remembering others, and prayer. But what distinguishes Paul’s thanksgiving from those BAFTA winners is who he thanks. Paul’s thanks centre on God. He knows that all that is good in our lives comes ultimately from God. As Paul has been transformed by the Holy Spirit from the inside out, he naturally now has a thankful heart. Thankfulness changes the atmosphere and the basis of all our relationships.

It is so easy to be critical and negative. But the BAFTA winners, echoing Paul, remind us that we should put thankfulness at the forefront of all we do in all of our relationships. So, in this season of Lent where we seek to refocus ourselves on God, why not include giving thanks to God for those people whom he has sent to us over the years and who have helped us in different ways. Not only does God love a thankful heart, but giving thanks is emotionally and spiritually beneficial. So, let’s complete Paul’s prayer for our own situations where he writes “we always thank God for …. INSERT YOUR NAMES HERE”.

Terence Russoff (Curate)