From the Preacherman….

Thank you. Thank you for all of the acts of kindness expressed to

me and my family during pastor appreciation month. We are grateful and

cannot express the deep and abiding joy we feel for being here during this

time. Your words, cards and gifts have been a blessing to us in the most

trying days I have experienced as a pastor. Thank you for each thing.

Words of gratitude and thanksgiving are not easily expressed. Very

early in my ministry I noticed this during the prayer time in worship at

church. People were willing to share concerns out loud, even deep

struggles, and have us all pray for them. However, aside from a few things

here and there, we were silent on matters for which we were thankful. So,

I started a practice which continues to this day. I always ask in worship,

“What are you thankful for?”

Often people do not answer, or won’t say anything, or simply smile

shyly. That is ok. Just think for a few seconds. I will wait. Deep gratitude

takes a moment. But given the space and time we start to open the eyes of

our hearts to notice with breathtaking wonder the world around us….the

spectacular display of color in the trees this autumn, the astonishing flavor

in that smoked ham, the steadfast faith of church members through the

difficult days of pandemic, the beauty of the flowers leaving the church

kitchen each Monday, chili dogs from the Varsity (sorry; not really).

Do we say it? Are we aware of what we have been given? For me

one of the greatest losses of our quarantine from each other in worship is

the missed time of shared thanksgiving. I did not realize how much the

practice had become for me a true, deep spiritual discipline, something

practiced over and over until it became second nature. I have learned to

look for things for which to be grateful, while at the same time

acknowledging the deep losses and struggles in this world and my life.

Both are necessary in prayer: thanksgiving and lament, gratitude and

sorrow. One without the other leaves us wobbly, limping in circles without

honesty or direction.

And what is the gift of our thanksgiving? These days the response

to “Thank you” is likely to be “No problem” or “Sure thing” or even “No,

thank you!” Ok, those are fine, but they miss the mark. What is the

appropriate, profoundly moving response to our thanks? You’re welcome.

God’s response to our gratitude is “You’re welcome.” Is there anything

more gracious than that? Try it and see.