Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
What does it mean to be thankful? As we look forward into November and celebrating Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas,
we hear words like thankfulness and gratitude often. Less often do we ponder what those words truly mean and how we live them out.
Thanksgiving, a holiday meant to celebrate gratitude for a life-sustaining harvest, has become a symbol of consumption and consumerism. Advent, a time of expectation and hope, has become frenetically filled with holiday parties, school events, and ticking presents off the list. Christmas, means to celebrate God’s miraculous presence with us, has become about sales and marketing.
In the face of all of this, what does it mean to be thankful? To show gratitude? We read in the Psalm 100: “Know that the Lord is God. It is he that made us, and we are his. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name.”
Thankfulness, at its core, is a response to the many blessings of God in our lives. It is a reflection on what we have bene given, and it is a consideration on how we can bless others. Thankfulness and gratitude are not just feelings, but rather attitudes and actions that reflect our blessedness to others. Through sharing and encouraging others, we spread thankfulness and gratitude.
But gratitude doesn’t just benefit others, it is also a way of pushing back against cultural forces that tell us we ought to always seek more. By giving, we recognize our true dependence on God. But we also realize that we have more than enough in a culture that is constantly telling us we are lacking.
This year at St. Paul’s, we will have consecration Sunday on November 20th. It is an opportunity for all of us to consider how our generous gifts can be blessings to others through the ministry of the church. This past year we have seen firsthand how generosity enables great things to happen: through our new garden which has produced abundant blessings to share, through our Rally Day Meal Packaging, which was an effort of the entire congregation to share with others. Imagine what we can do together with God in 2017!
Throughout Advent, we will also have opportunities to reflect on the season with thanksgiving. The first Sunday of Advent is November 27th, and we will also offer Wednesday evening worship opportunities on November 30th, and December 7th and 14th. (Details will follow.)
This Advent, we will also be encouraging members to consider a “Reverse Advent Calendar.” For each day of Advent, instead of opening a small gift for yourself, you put a gift for someone else in a box. We will have instructions for how to participate ready for you on November 27th.
So, brothers and sisters, although this time can get hectic and busy, I invite you into a season of gratitude. A season of reflection on our blessings and how we may bless others. And may the God who has provided us with every good thing, continue to bless us during this holy time.
Pastor Laura Tancredi