Online Study

Study Description

According to one of the earliest church fathers, St. Irenaeus, the root of all human disbelief and impiety can be traced to a single vice, the vice of ingratitude. By contrast, the Christian life and faith grows from a different root, that of thanksgiving.

This 11-week study will explore the whole of Christian faith, including what we believe, the way that we pray, and how we're supposed to live. And we'll do this by walking line-by-line through one of our most celebrated prayers, prayed by Anglicans around the world every morning and night, and known by the humble title, "The General Thanksgiving."

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  • Length: 11 sessions
  • Teacher: The Rev. Dr. Jonathan Bailes
  • Leader's Guide: Discussion questions are available for small group leaders.
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1. Grace & Gratitude

Thanksgiving is more than a religious duty; it's one of the greatest means to genuine happiness. Christianity is founded upon the recognition that God has done for us what we cannot do for ourselves--certainly more than we deserve. We begin this study by exploring of this fundamental act of gratitude.

2. The Giver: Father of All Mercies

God deserves our thanks, for he is the great Giver. In this session, we'll talk about what that means, and specifically, how addressing God as Father can teach us about his goodness and generosity.

3. The Gift: Creation

In The General Thanksgiving, we first give thanks for the gift of creation, or what poet Wendell Berry calls "the grace of the world." We discuss what this means and how our own existence as creatures is a gift, as we learn to recognize and receive all things with gratitude.

4. The Gift: Preservation & Blessings

So often we assume that we are responsible for our own sustenance and that success is due to our own efforts. In this session, we see that God is the true source of life and blessing. We owe him thanks for every good we enjoy.

5. The Gift: Redemption

The words of John 3:16 are so familiar to us that they've lost their astonishing significance. Redemption is a gift; are we as amazed by it as we should be? In this session, we explore a theological truth we've known since childhood with hope to be amazed all over again.

6. The Gift: Means of Grace

The apostle Paul writes, "He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ." Even our spiritual growth is a gift of God; we need only make ourselves available to his work. In this session, we discuss the means of God's work, the means of grace by which he converts and transforms our lives.

7. The Gift: Hope of Glory

We are given a great gift: a promised future in which we experience and share in the glory of God. Yet, as C.S. Lewis observes, we remain half-hearted creatures, fooling about when infinite joy is offered us. In this session, we examine why God's promises far exceed all the smaller hopes that often occupy our thoughts.

8. The Response: Awareness of Mercies

Give us such an awareness of you mercies, we pray, yet often we live unaware of and ungrateful for the gifts of God. In this lesson, we consider the common reasons for our inattention and ingratitude and ask how we can become more attentive and aware.

9. The Response: Show Forth Your Praise

How should we respond to the overwhelming goodness and generosity of God? Simple: show forth God’s praise. In this session, we discuss what that means, focusing especially on why praise is a duty of the people of God and why it is also public.

10. The Response: Giving Our Selves to Service

Jesus came not to be served but to serve, and likewise he tells his followers that they are servants of God and called to serve one another. In this session, we discuss how service follows from thanksgiving and is central to the Christian life.

11. Walking In Holiness and Righteousness

"Be holy as I am holy." God's words to his people exemplify what J.I. Packer once called "the goal of our redemption," which is that we should live as a holy people. But what does holiness mean? This question guide our concluding session on The General Thanksgiving.

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We invite ordinary people to know Jesus Christ and become like Him for the sake of the world.

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