“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NRSVue)
When Paul Saik was with us, he closed his Sunday afternoon performance as he closes all his performances with Andrae Crouch’s timeless song, “My Tribute.” The first stanza says,
How can I say thanks For the things You have done for me? Things so undeserved Yet You gave to prove Your love for me; The voices of a million angels Could not express my gratitude All that I am and ever hope to be I owe it all to Thee
I echo Andrae and Paul’s sacred thoughts as we approach a time of offering thanks to God for our many blessings. We have received much from God—our lives, personalities, family, friends, talents, abilities, and opportunities. God expects nothing in return for his bounteous gifts due to his unconditional love for his beloved children, yet God hopes we will respond with love as we experience his love for us. God gives because he loves—not because he expects anything in return—but because it is his nature to give. We give to that which we love.
In this season of uncertainty and anxiety for our congregation and our world, we must counter any fears or worries with gratitude, acknowledging God is still at work amid the unease. We can be thankful that God does not leave us in our struggles, and our faithfulness can release our fretfulness. Gratitude refocuses our thinking on God and his goodness and reminds us that we are not alone. God is not surprised by what we’re going through, and he’s providing a way through our difficulties if we are willing to listen as we wait.
We tend to withdraw and withhold when we’re nervous about the future. It’s an act of faith to engage and give even more when the going gets tough. Our church continues to meet the needs of many in our community through faithful outreach. Our church offers God’s guidance and direction to our children and youth who develop through our ministries as fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. Our church provides the tools we all need to grow in our relationship with God if we are willing to invest ourselves in the opportunities. None of this is possible without your financial gifts that undergird our ministries or your volunteer support that give our missions the hands and feet of Christ to serve.
If you have not pledged to the 2023 General Fund, we encourage you to do so. If you haven’t completed your giving for 2022, please do whatever you can to fulfill your commitment. We understand we are in difficult economic times, and we know you’ll do your best while caring for your needs. If you’re thinking about a year-end gift, please make it before December 31st so we can account for it in this calendar year. We want to finish 2022 fiscally well and position our church for an even better 2023, but we can’t do it without you. I thank you in advance for whatever you can do, remembering that we give to that which we love. Happy Thanksgiving! — Senior Pastor Dale Cohen