I absolutely love this - it's very close to the essence of all I try, and fail, to do and be in this strange business of following our Lord. Bonhoeffer has very nearly nailed the whole thing about the local church, and why we so need it, and it so needs us. We mustn't forget that St. Francis began by repairing, literally, with his own hands, one tiny little broken down church...
Only he who gives thanks for little things receives the big things. We prevent God from giving us the great spiritual gifts he has in store for us, because we do not give thanks for daily gifts. We think we dare not be satisfied with the small measure of spiritual knowledge, experience and love that has been given to us, and that we must constantly be looking forward eagerly for the highest good. Then we deplore the fact that we lack the deep certainty, the strong faith and the rich experience that God has given to others, and we consider this lament to be pious. We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts. How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from him the little things? If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian fellowship in which we have been placed, even where there is no great experience, no discoverable riches, but much weakness, small faith and difficulty; if on the contrary we only keep complaining to God that everything is so paltry and petty, so far from what we expected, then we hinder God from letting our fellowship grow according to the measure and riches which are there for us all in Jesus Christ.
From Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (SCM Press, 1963).
(With thanks to Vicki K Black)