“O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.” – 1 Chronicles 16:34
This is the season of giving thanks to God for all our blessings. Even though it is a time of pandemic, politics, economic struggle, racial tensions and there is so much that can weigh us down—God’s grace shines through and gives us hope. To help us through and try to turn things around I find it is always good to count our blessings and give thanks to God! It puts our focus where it should be: upon God and all that God has done for us and gives to us. Giving thanks to God lifts our spirits by putting life into perspective, taking our minds off of our problems, and reminding us of the good things which can be seen faithfully as God’s work and God’s grace active in our daily lives.
We begin this month with All Saints Sunday on November 7th. In worship, we remember and light candles especially for those of our congregation who have gone on to God’s care since the previous All Saints Sunday last year. As we recall our saints, we can give thanks to God that our lives intersected with theirs, even if in just some small way. We were blessed to know them, blessed that we share the faith they had, and together we are joined forever in the gospel of Jesus Christ. While we miss them, we must realize the blessings they were to us and still are. For them, we give thanks to God, and their cherished memory gives us strength.
Let us also give thanks to God for each other. Day after day, I am encouraged and inspired by the good people of this congregation. It is such a blessing to get to be a part of a congregation that truly cares about making a real difference in people’s lives and are working to make that difference in the name of Jesus. Looking back on confirmation Sunday, we heard six inspiring faith statements from our confirmands. We can give thanks for them and their faith. This last month, we also saw ministry happening through our renovation team at Caroline Furnace, our ESOL ministry, our refugee ministry, and our Trunk or Treat event for the community. It is a blessing to get to be a part of a congregation with so many people who have such hearts for service in so many ways and live that out in ministry together to the glory of God.
We all give thanks for the ministry and service of our Director of Music Ministries, Robert Morehead. We bid him and his family farewell as he embarks upon a new chapter in life. We give thanks for his hard work, faithfulness, and leadership here at Emmanuel for over five years. We have been blessed and he goes with our blessing.
As our stewardship drive unfolds and culminates this month with the theme “Relationships Grows Here,” we can give thanks for the ministry God has set before us. We have a message of God’s love for the world that is the good news of Jesus Christ. We are a faith community where people are in relationship, can find a sense of belonging, and make meaning of their lives which are both things that people will always want and need. The world needs the church as much as ever, and we get to be there for them. We are stewards of that holy and joyous calling, and we can give thanks for that.
This month as we worship and work together, let us give thanks for those who have gone before us and those who are right beside us. Whatever struggles, troubles, and problems we might have, still we have each other. And always, right there beside us we have the one who was born, lived, died and rose again for us–Jesus Christ. No matter how dark life might get, Jesus Christ is a light that shines for us always. That is what we together with the faithful around the world can celebrate—the one who makes us all saints. Thanks be to God!
Grace and Peace,
Pastor Tony Prinsen