A few days ago, I read a story that sparked my curiosity for the term Ubuntu. Ubuntu is a compact term in Zulu, a language spoken in South Africa, and when translated, it means “I am, because you are”—like the children in the following story believed:
“An anthropologist proposed a game to children in an African tribe. He put a basket of fruit near a tree and told the children whoever got there first won the sweet fruits. When he told them to run, they all took each other’s hands and ran together, then sat together enjoying their treats. When he asked them why they had run together like that as one could have had all the fruits for himself, they said: ‘Ubuntu, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?”
As we prepare for the Advent season this year, perhaps we view ourselves living in a post-pandemic world. Yet many in our communities are still coming to grips with the unexpected pains or tragedies they faced—either due to the COVID-19 pandemic or due to some illness or loss in the past year alone. Rather than wonder if it must be challenging for them to be joyful in this season, my family is thankful for the opportunity to share in the pains of a few of those people. Our thankful celebrations do not exist in isolation but in communion with Christ and in community with those around us.
Thankfulness is not only recognizing what God has done for us in Christ but also sharing our faith and extending compassion to those the Lord brings into our lives, especially those who do not enjoy the privileges with which we are blessed. We are reminded in Ephesians 2:10 that “we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” This verse leads us to be thankful for the blessing of salvation through Jesus Christ and for being a community with the responsibility to help and hold each other up through life’s trials and triumphs. Moreover, we are encouraged to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24) and to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
The 17th century English poet George Herbert’s prayer poem “Gratefulness” is one of my favorites. The following lines are profound:
Wherefore I cry, and cry again;
And in no quiet canst thou be,
Till I a thankful heart obtain
Not thankful, when it pleaseth me;
As if thy blessings had spare days:
But such a heart, whose pulse may be
The Lord has been teaching me to pray: “Thou that has given so much to me, give one thing more [each day]—a grateful heart.” May thankfulness become the pulse of our hearts.
This reflection was originally published through Nazarene News in the following link: https://t.e2ma.net/webview/eg4x7e/88df85ea03bf05471c90edb1e97d1be0