Gratitude: Some Thoughts for Yonge Street Mission

by Brian Walsh

In a culture of perpetual dissatisfaction,
a culture where you are what you have made yourself,
a culture of ceaseless craving
……for new experiences,
……for consumer goods,
……for power,
……for sex,
……for wealth,
……for status,
a culture of hyperactive frenzy and anxiety,
a culture of paralysis and numbness,
……in this culture,
……gratitude can set us free.

Gratitude receives life as a gift,
not a self-made accomplishment.

Gratitude is rooted in deep satisfaction,
not held captive to dissatisfaction.

Gratitude replaces isolation
with community.

Gratitude replaces competition
with friendship.

Gratitude meets an economy of ‘more’
with the audacious experience of ‘enough.’

Gratitude abandons aggression
for gentleness.

Gratitude shakes off arrogance,
for humility.

If the peace of Christ rules in our hearts,
if we know the power of forgiveness,
if we have been renewed in Christ,
if love binds our lives together,
then we will be thankful.

If the word of Christ dwells in us richly,
if the word of Christ takes up residence deep in our lives,
if that word begins to bear fruit in us,
if wisdom begins to shape our imaginations,
then we will sing songs of profound gratitude.

If we have come to Christ,
if we give our whole lives to Christ,
if we submit every dimension of our lives to his loving rule,
if we do everything in the name of Christ,
……then our whole lives will be a thanks offering,
……our whole lives will give thanks to God our Father.

Christian ministry is not a duty,
it is an act of gratitude.

My friends at Yonge Street Mission,
In my prayers for you, I always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I always thank God for Yonge Street Mission.
For I haven’t just heard of your faith, I have been adopted into that faith.
I haven’t just heard of your love, my life was transformed by that love.
I haven’t just heard of your audacious vision of hope, that hope has taken hold of my life.

You see, the gospel, the liberatingly radical good news of Jesus and his Kingdom came to me, forty years ago in the dingy basement of a rescue mission at 381 Yonge Street.

That gospel came to me in friends whose lives were suffused with gratitude.
That gospel came to me in wise Christian leaders who gave me the space to find Jesus, and in doing so, to find myself, my true self, my self called by God.

That is a fruitbearing gospel.
The good fruit of a safe place for troubled kids to hang out.
The good fruit of safe housing.
The good fruit of meaningful employment.
The good fruit of food for hungry people.
The good fruit of summer camp and after school programs.
The good fruit of mentoring and counselling.
The good fruit of Bible study and worship.

And I’m here to say thank you.
That gospel has borne good fruit in my life.
That gospel has saved my life.
That gospel set me free from a works spirituality in which I had to make it on my own, to a spirituality of grace, knowing that I am held in the loving arms of God and led by my Father’s hand.

And I met this grace here, at Yonge Street Mission.
I learned that grace from my spiritual father and mother,
……Arthur and Maryanne Dixon,
……fellow servants,
…...faithful ministers.

Thank you, so very, very much.

Brian Walsh
Brian is an activist theologian, a retired CRC campus minister, the founder of the Wine Before Breakfast community, and farms with Sylvia Keesmaat at Russet House Farm.He engages issues of theology and culture, and has written a couple of books you might want to check out. His most recent offering is cowritten with Sylvia Keesmaat and entitled Romans Disarmed: Resisting Empire, Demanding Justice.

One Response to “Gratitude: Some Thoughts for Yonge Street Mission”

  1. Gwyneth McSwain

    I remember Brian Walsh, from Yonge St Mission, so glad the Lord has done a wonderful work in him. Arthur and Maryanne Dixon, were spiritual parents to many people and a wonderful couple. I always enjoyed the Sunday afternoon spiritual time at the Christian Youth Centre.
    Glad to have caught up with an old friend.
    Gwyn (was Kayser) McSwain


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