As we prepare to enter into a new year, a year full of possibilities, and as we leave the old year behind, it is worth pausing to take stock. Of course, we pause to reflect on what we could have done better this past year, how we want to be better next year, but we can also pause to count our blessings. So I want you to take a breath, take a moment, and recall the blessings we have given and received this year.
The blessing of shelter: of warmth and safety and security. The blessing of having food on our tables, of being able to support others in times of need, and be supported by a loving community.
The blessing of health, even in the midst of covid, of anxiety, of aches and pains. The blessing of treatment, of care, of bodies that work…most of the time.
The blessing of love: the love of family—birth and chosen—the love of caring friends, reciprocal love that affirmed us and our existence in the world, that reminded us—and gave us the power to remind others—that we matter.
The blessing of generosity: of wealth as our abilities allowed, but also of time, of kindness, of labor, a generosity of spirit with the people we encountered.
The blessing of experience: of learning, of growth, of being in places new and familiar, of growing and stretching ourselves. Of mistakes that expanded our horizons.
The blessing of service: to our community, to our God, to each other.
Of course, we could reflect on when those blessings were absent, we could remember when things went wrong. We are, as humans, designed to focus on when things go wrong. But in this moment, hold dear the blessings received, the blessings given, all the blessings that we could imagine in our lives, blessings that nourish us even in this moment.
So we offer gratitude for the blessings (by Ruth Brin):
For the blessings which You lavish upon us
In forest and sea, in mountain and meadow, in rain and sun,
We thank You.
For the blessings You implant within us,
Joy and peace, meditation and laughter,
We are grateful to You.
For the blessings of friendship and love,
Of family and community,
For the blessings we ask of You
And those we cannot ask,
For the blessings You bestow upon us openly
And those you give us in secret
For all these blessings, O Creator of the Universe,
We thank You and are grateful to You.
For the blessings we recognize
And those we fail to recognize,
For the blessings of our tradition
And of our holy days,
For the blessings of return and forgiveness,
Of memory, of vision, and of hope—
For all these blessings which surround us on every side
Dear God, hear our thanks and accept our gratitude. Amen.