FROM PASTOR MIKE’S DESK:
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
Approaching Thanksgiving, a good number of people take some time to look back at the year, to look back upon their life and to recognize the things in which they are thankful for.
I know that as I do this, I can see a lot of the ways in which God has blessed me and my family. Just looking back at the month of October and all the ways in which people showed their appreciation, love, and support to me and my family … through the cards, comments, hugs, and gifts … I’m literally blown away. And not just me, but the same goes for Jessica. We are blown away by the way our church family, the way in which you all have shown your love and thankfulness to us. For all that you have done, continue to do, and I’m sure will do … from my family to you … Thank You!!! Thank you all so much!!!
You know, St. Paul, in many of his letters to the different churches he started begins with some form of a thank you. Probably the most memorable one, at least for me, comes out of his letter to the Philippians. Sitting in a jail cell with very meager living conditions, Paul begins his letter to them, “I thank my God every time I remember you” (Philippians 1:3). In the midst of Paul’s struggle, in the midst of being confined, in the midst of not being able to do ministry the way he would like to do it … Paul looks at all the ways the people of the Philippian church continue to bless him. But not only him but also the people of God back in Jerusalem.
I am by no means saying that I’m confined or that I’m living in meager conditions … but I do understand Paul’s struggle of not being able to do ministry the way in which I would like to do it, in the way in which it should be done. There are many times in which I feel like I am failing the people of our church, of our family. And yet in the midst of everything going on … you all continue to remember me and my family … and for this we continue to thank God, every time we think of you.
In working on this newsletter, in reflecting back on all things and in all the ways God has blessed us, in looking forward to Thanksgiving … a hymn kept coming to mind. This hymn, written by Henry Smith, is titled, “Give Thanks,” or maybe better known as “Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart.” Like with most songs, there is a story behind the hymn.
Henry Smith wrote this great hymn as he struggled in his life. He had trouble finding work after graduating from college. Smith suffered from a degenerative condition that eventually left him legally blind. Yet while at his church in Williamsburg, Virginia, his pastor inspired him with a reference to how Jesus made himself poor to make others rich through him (2 Corinthians 8:9). Throughout the hymn, Smith is giving thanks to God for the precious gift of Jesus. He sees that God’s side of the equation of life, the blessings God freely bestows on us, outweighs whatever is on the opposite side, whatever the heartache, the struggle we find ourselves in.
And so with Smith, with each other, with Paul, with the writers of the Psalms … we give thanks to God.
“Shout with joy to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious!” (Psalm 66:1-2).
“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song” (Psalm 95:1-2).
“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 107:1).
We all have soooo much to be thankful for! I pray that you take a moment to pause, to reflect and see the great things which God has blessed you with. As you and I recognize these blessings, may we joyfully return thanks to God.
God’s blessings to you and a blessed Thanksgiving to you from me and my family!