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How to say ‘thank you’? God is pretty clear about what is desired – justice, kindness, humility. Things that can and should be offered year round. For aren’t we always grateful for God’s love and grace. Yet, it is good to take a time apart to reflect on all for which we are thankful, particularly those things for which there is no adequate expression, no words to fully express what is in our hearts.
This November, I am particularly in that position of finding ways to offer thanks when there are no words to say what is in my heart. The outpouring of love, the signs of grace, the expressions of support, the prayers that were offered, the emails, the notes, the texts in the midst of my mother’s dying and death, were as surely signs of the movement of the Holy Spirit as any I have known. I was not at all surprised – after five years as your pastor, I have seen this time and time again; in many circumstances, in our church family. But I continue to be in awe and to be grateful that God brought us together for such a time as this.
Know that as I reflect on all of God’s gifts this Thanksgiving, the easiest to offer and the most difficult to express is all you have been to me in these past days. But, as part of my offering, I will seek to be to others what you have been to me. Thank you for allowing God to be so at work through each of you.
“Sing to the Lord a new song…” writes the psalmist. And yet how much we love what is known and familiar. But then we have opportunities to try a new venture and carry some of the familiar with us.
I am so grateful for the adventurous spirit of this congregation. Twice this month we tried “a new thing”. First we worshiped with two other churches in park outdoors. But in the midst of that unfamiliar territory, we heard familiar hymns and the same words for communion that bring us together.
Then we gathered at Menaul School for an All Church Retreat- again going into unknown territory, and yet the faces, the Bible stories and the hymns were all familiar. When we go forward, while still taking part of who we are with us, we can sing a new song for God, we can grow together in faith.
When we are told to sing a new song, we are not told to forget the old songs. Rather we are called to add to our repertoire, that there may be yet more ways to glorify our God. Just this month we found that we can glorify God in a park, with other congregations, and on the campus of school doing things in ways we had not before, but with people we already love and know. All these things not only glorify God but build up the Body of Christ. Perhaps you joined the Bible Study for the first time this fall, or have decided to join the vocal or bell choir, or started going to lunch with the men. All these can be new songs for God. Thanks be to God for all God’s marvelous gifts!
Serving Christ with you,
“So let us not become tired of doing good; for if we do not give up, the time will come when we will reap the harvest”. Galatians 6:9
As I watched the piles of school supplies grow, I once again marveled a the generous hearts of RRPC. Not just generous with sharing food or notebooks and pencils, but generous of spirit, wanting to share God’s love in tangible ways with our neighbors. We do it when we collect items for asylum seekers and refugees, the schools and Storehouse West. We also do it when we give of ourselves in volunteering in the community, such as Relay for Life or mentoring in the schools. In our prayer life when we lift up our neighbors, we are opening ourselves to God’s leading. I often hear accounts of how many of you are living out faith in loving neighbors.
It can be hard to keep this up. The needs seem overwhelming at times. It can be disheartening. And yet, when I see things like the results of our supply drive or our Thanksgiving baskets, I am reminded, we are not alone in loving our neighbor. Together we can lift up our neighbor, and God is present with us, the Holy Spirit guiding and encouraging us. With God’s help we can and are doing amazing things.
Serving Christ with you,