Thanksgiving week is here — can you believe it? — and we hope you will make time to reflect on the many reasons you have to be grateful. It’s an important practice — best done daily or perhaps multiple times a day!
We face many challenges in our lives and in our world, it is true, but gratitude does not deny that or turn away from it. Rather, gratitude helps us put things into proper perspective, reminds us of the goodness of our faithful Shepherd and calls us to put our thanks into action.
In the words of the old hymn by Johnson Oatman Jr.:
“When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged thinking all is lost
Count your many blessings, name them one by one
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done!”
God has done so much — and way more than we ever notice or realize.
Here are just five brief examples of things God has done at St. Mark’s in the past year:
- God guided our Call Committee and brought us a wonderful new pastor, the Rev. Kelley Ketcham, and her delightful family!
- God has given wisdom and strength to our Leadership Council, with each member serving in specific areas of our life together — from facilities to financial stewardship to updating our constitution and responding to needs as they arise.
- God has sustained our Worship and Music Committee, whose members have worked to plan and expand our worship opportunities, including the online options that have helped those who cannot attend in person.
- God has led many to service in prayer, “Caring Hearts” ministry, congregational life, flowers, meals and care for our property and other resources.
- God has provided multiple opportunities for study and faith formation, with several small groups meeting regularly — in-person and online — to discuss God’s Word, pray for our congregation and world, and strengthen our connections with each other. He has also raised up teachers, who prepare and deliver excellent learning opportunities for children and adults.
- God has enabled us to provide support for Lutheran World Relief, Lutheran Community Services, Lutheran Volunteer Corps, Sojourners’ Place, Family Promise, Hilltop Lutheran Neighborhood Center, Jewish Family Services’ refugee settlement efforts, Lutheran Disaster Response, Lutheran Campus Ministry and other agencies that provide relief to those in need locally and around the world.
You could add many more examples, we know! Write them down and bring them up when we’re talking together! Problems are real and stressful and may seem insurmountable at times. But God’s faithfulness is new every morning and it’s a healthy, essential practice to stop and recognize the goodness, beauty and joy God pours into our lives and our world.
It is important, too, to remember God’s words to Abram, when He called him to leave his native country and go to a new land:
“I will bless you … and you will be a blessing to others.” (Genesis 12: 2)
We are blessed not only for our own good, but also to be a blessing to others.
And this is where gratitude goes into action!
Please remember the blessings God has poured into our lives and make a fresh commitment to share those blessings and resources with St. Mark’s, with our community and with those in need around the world.
We are thankful for you and we pray for God’s blessing on you and all of yours, that we may all be a blessing to our world.