Love and Gratitude

On Sunday, I talked about how expressions of gratitude impact people around us. In her book, Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks, Diana Butler Bass writes about the impact that gratitude has on the people who observe it in others. She refers to work done by social psychologists who monitor the affects on the brain and bodily functions when someone observes another person expressing gratitude. One such psychologist is Jonathan Haidt, who observed a calming response, as well as related impulses, such as awe or self-transcendence. Amazing! Our bodily functions, our emotional states, and our spiritual wellbeing actually change when we observe another person expressing gratitude!

Our Scripture readings on Sunday point us toward love and gratitude when it comes to bringing our offerings to God. According to Psalm 50, it is gratitude that makes our offerings acceptable to God. Mark 12 reinforces this and also adds that love for God and others is the most important thing we can offer to God. In the story of the poor widow who places two half-pennies in the temple offering, Jesus makes it really clear that her offering is valuable and worthy because she gave from love and gratitude.

There is an important lesson here for us: our offerings to God are also valuable and of great worth to God when we give with love and gratitude. God is not concerned so much with the size of the gift; God is concerned with the love and gratitude that are offered in our giving. Another lesson from the story is that we can actually give everything to God. Just like the poor widow gave everything she owned to God, we can too. Think about what you place in the offering plate at church, what you give to your favorite non-profit organization, what is in your bank account, your home, your possessions, the time you have left here on Earth. What if you truly believed that it all belongs to God and you are a steward to make it all work and make a difference in the world by participating with God in sharing, loving, and being grateful?

For many of us, this is a big shift in how we are being in the world, in how we see ourselves and “our” possessions, in how we fundamentally relate to God, other people and the entire universe. It is a completely different paradigm in our living. Yet, it is the only way I know to live with the greatest joy, the deepest peace, and the most love. Besides, just think of all the people who will be impacted by watching you live with such gratitude! I invite you, if you have not done so already, to make that shift.

Aloha nui!

Kahu Alan Akana


Our Kahu (Pastor) offers a weekly message in church most Sundays during the year. Click HERE to see a video of his message from this past Sunday. You may see the Koloa Union Church YouTube channel to see many of his past messages and subscribe in order be notified when a new message is posted. Please share these videos with friends and invite them to church. Please feel free to “Like” any of the videos you see and share them on social media, such as Facebook, so that others will notice them.

“A Message from Kahu Alan Akana” is provided most weeks by the Kahu (Pastor) of Koloa Union Church, a congregation of the United Church of Christ (UCC), a member of the Kauai Association and Hawaii Conference.