Minister's letter

A message


from Jo Strange




As a child, one of the ‘down’ sides of birthdays was having to write my ‘thank you’ letters for all the lovely gifts I had received.  My mum was strict about this – she made it very clear to my sisters and me that it was polite and absolutely the right thing to do to write to those folks who had generously given gifts and to say ‘thank you’.  I can remember clearly that mum insisted that we wrote two sides of Basildon Bond (other types of writing paper are available!) – any less was unacceptable, but I would endeavour to use the biggest writing possible and spread out the final ‘love from’ as much as I could in an effort to speed up this task!!!  I have to say my Mum who is nearly 90 still always writes the most amazing ‘thank yous’ which always mean so much to the recipient.








Saying ‘thank you’, showing our gratitude is still, to this day, really important.  I recently read the story in Luke’s gospel about the 10 lepers whom Jesus healed, but how only one of them returned to Jesus to thank him for the healing received.  To truly understand this story we need to remember that a diagnosis of leprosy in those days meant automatic banishment from the rest of society.   So to receive this healing from such a dreadful disease would have totally transformed the lives of the ten and yet only this one of them took the time to return to Jesus and express his gratitude for transforming his life from one of being an outcast to acceptance and inclusion.


This got me thinking about how good I am at giving thanks?  I know as a parent, and more recently as a grandparent I am always saying to my children/grandchildren – ‘what do you say?’ as a reminder for them to say thank you whether it be in response to a treat, a present or a host of other positive experiences.  But how good am I, how good are you at saying ‘thank you’ and why do we so often fall short in this respect?



Perhaps one of the reasons is that we are just too busy to find the time!  I recently read a lovely account (in a book by Trystan Hughes) of one of the astronauts who had walked on the moon.  When he was subsequently interviewed about his experience he was asked if he had any regrets.  He went on to explain that when he had stepped onto the surface of the moon, he looked back at earth and just stood still, in wonder at its beauty.  But then he suddenly thought ‘oh I am meant to be collecting rocks’ and went on with his work.  He explained that he really regretted not taking another few moments to appreciate the view, to give thanks for it.  How often like the astronaut are we too busy ‘collecting rocks’ to take time out to appreciate and give thanks for the good things in our lives?





As I have reflected on the importance of giving thanks I have realised that it is another wonderful gift from God who knows how healing giving thanks can be.  As we reflect on the good things and give thanks it helps us, often in sometimes really difficult times, to see the glimpses of light and joy in our lives, however dark or difficult they may feel at the time.  Through giving thanks our spirits can be lifted as we take time to recognise the good things in our lives.


If you, like me, find this difficult then why not set aside a short time at the end of each day and jot down all the positives of that day and if you feel like it ‘write’ in your head a thank you letter to God – it really is a helpful thing to do as I have discovered.  As the psalmist says ‘give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!’ (psalm 107).