Gratitude & Contentment
by Josh Porter
Begin with prayer (5 minutes)
Gather together as a Community in a comfortable setting (around a table, on the couch, the floor of a living room, etc.).
If you’re up for it, and your setting is quiet, spend a few minutes in silence. Why silence? Because we live in a busy, noisy world, under the non-stop assault of digital distraction. In the midst of all the chaos, it’s hard at times to hear one another, let alone the voice of God. As we gather together as a family, we want to hear what the Father is saying to and through each of us, and respond in turn. A great way to do that is to begin with a moment of quiet.
Have somebody lead a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.
Spend a little time in triads (15–20 minutes)
If you are in a Community of seven or more, divide into small groups of 3 - 4 people each (ideally same gender).
One by one, work through the group having everyone offer a brief update on life throughout the last week, then let each person answer the following questions:
1. What was your impression of Sunday’s teaching?
2. Now a couple of weeks in, what have you begun to notice about Sabbath, for better or for worse?
Transition back to one large group (10-15 minutes)
Ask a few questions about the last week’s Practice:
1. How was last week’s Practice? (If you’ve yet to begin, how can your Community encourage you to give it a go?)
2. Are you a person for whom preparation comes naturally? Or does the idea feel a little daunting?
Read this overview
Gratitude is unnatural. The disposition out of which most modern humans operate is entitlement and discontent. What we don’t have is ever before us or tucked temporarily in the shadow of our subconsciousness. The hunger for more cripples gratitude and drains restfulness—the hamster who can never stop the wheel. With every rotation, he wants another, doomed to pursue a destination that cannot be reached, for it does not exist.
In the Hebrew Scriptures, the people of God were forbidden from buying and selling during the Sabbath. Trade and commerce were brought to a halt for an entire day, every week. Though we are no longer bound to the letter of this law, it serves as enduring wisdom, and a sobering warning against that which prevents rest: materialism and want.
Gratitude is a deliberate act of mindful contentment. Though it is isn’t natural to the modern sensibility, we can yet discover methods of gratitude, practices of thanksgiving, and grow from them a lifestyle of rest.
Open to the Bible together (10 minutes)
Have someone read 1 Timothy 6v6-10.
- Why is the thirst for more money and more things irrevocably tethered to destruction?
- How can a deliberate stop to buying and selling contribute to gratitude and contentment?
Talk about the coming week’s Practice as a Community (10–15 minutes)
Building on your previous work to develop or continue in a rhythm of restfulness, take this week’s Sabbath as an opportunity to practice gratitude to God and to one another. Here are a few suggestions:
- In your time of prayer, spend some time journaling, specifically listing things for which you are grateful.
- If you live with family or with friends, vocalize gratitude around the dinner table, listing the things, people, and moments in recent memory that you recognize as gifts from God.
- Throughout the day, as you rest and delight, pause and thank God in the small beauty of ordinary things: laughter, a good meal, a touch from a spouse, a smile on your child’s face, a conversation with a good friend, a work of art.
- Don’t shop. Don’t window shop. Don’t peruse shopping options online.
- If your mind is drawn to something you’d like to buy, something you don’t have, something you want… Pause, remember all you have, and practice contentment instead.
Work through these discussion questions (10–15 minutes)
1. How can you practice gratitude and contentment during your Sabbath?
2. What do you find typically increases your sense of contentment?
3. What do you find typically decreases your sense of contentment?