When I think about the Holidays that dot our calendars, Thanksgiving is the one that seems to do us the most good. In a sense, it contains all the others. I cannot think of a holiday that doesn’t remind us to be thankful in some way. New Year’s Day gives us the opportunity to give thanks for the blessings of the previous year, and to express gratitude for the promise and hope of another new one. Washington’s Birthday, Independence Day, Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day remind us to be thankful for those who founded our nation and for those who have defended it. The birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. reminds us to give thanks for all of those who have helped our country live up to the ideals set forth in our founding. On Columbus Day, we remember those whose spirit of adventure led them to discover what was beyond everyone else’s imagination. Labor Day reminds us to be thankful for the work we have to do, and for those who labor in ways that benefit us all. Though it is only observed every four years, Inauguration Day certainly causes us to give thanks for the peaceful transfer of power. All of our Holidays invoke some sense of gratitude.
While Christmas is a Federal holiday, neither Easter nor Good Friday are. For followers of Christ, these days are most important. In them, we celebrate God coming to us and God saving us. The importance of these events in the lives of believers cannot be overstated. Without them, we would be lost; which brings us back to giving thanks. When we consider all of the ways that God has touched our lives, and all of the people who have shared themselves with us, knowingly and unknowingly, we have much for which to be thankful. Being grateful is a practice that we ought to attend to more frequently.
As I think about the events of this year, I really do not know where to start giving thanks. My mother is not well, but she is still with us. I had cancer, but surgery took care of it. Patti has recovered from surgery on her feet, and Joshua is back at work after suffering a broken ankle. Will is about to turn sixteen and is growing and learning every day.
There are so many people doing so many things in our church for which I am grateful. The delightful way that Tina Collins is leading us in worship during this interim time. Thea Carter, Roger Underwood and Shelly Farmer bless us Sunday after Sunday with their instruments in the sanctuary. All those people who show up for choir practice every Wednesday night, and then give us the gift of music on Sunday morning. Bailey Chambers, Andrew Myers, David Schumann, Jason Smith and Stephanie Stokes who make the music happen in “The Road” week after week. Karen Diaz and the consistent leadership she gives to the drama ministry. Brian Johnson and the way he loves our young people. Their growth in numbers as well as in spiritual vitality is having an impact on the whole church. Janet and the way she keeps our church office moving in the right direction. Polly Hamby and her love for our older members. Pat Shelby and the leadership she gives to our senior adults. All the people who made this year’s children’s musical happen. The children were amazing. We have teachers teaching and learners learning every Sunday in Sunday School. Our fellowship is made richer by the hard work and dedication of our kitchen staff, and our building and grounds crew keeps us looking well maintained and beautiful. From Western Heights to North Africa, we have people in our church who have a heart for doing the Great Commission and living lives obedient to the Great Commandment.
One story that will serve to sum up what it is I am most thankful for about our church happened this week. I received a call from a lady who needed a ride to a doctor’s appointment. I sent an email out to the church describing that need. When I arrived at the office the next morning, my email box was full of people willing to meet this lady’s need. People who love people, and love to share the love of Christ with each and with the world, are what I am most thankful for about our church. Thank you for being you and for letting me be a part of what God is doing in this place.