Seasons of Thankfulness
We all celebrate thankfulness throughout the continuum of the living of our days. I take seriously the scripture to be thankful in all things so here is a small inventory of things for which I give thanks.
For myself, as an individual, I looked back over pictures on my phone. In those pictures, just to mention a few, I captured my first meal following a significant, successful surgery in January: A simple blessing of noodle soup and grilled cheese sandwich. I saw the picture of a grandson, born vibrant and healthy after a challenging history of my son and daughter-in-law’s struggles to bring a pregnancy to term the last five years. I saw pictures of spring flowers and fall leaves. I see on my phone the long list of messages from my family as we deal with the challenge of a brother who was on the ventilator for 11 days and, now, in his 25th day since contracting Covid, has finally made it to a specialized rehab hospital for what will likely be another month or two of recovery. Give thanks in all things.
For the church I serve, I saw pictures of a new floor made possible by water damage. I saw pictures of ministry still being done for our neighborhood through mission meals and most recently participation in a community “Candy Crawl” event allowing neighbors to drive through, in costume, to receive a small gift bag of goodies. All appropriately masked and maintaining safe distances. I saw my phone log reminding me of continuing conversations with our AA group leader, several neighborhood residents who call our church their home, each one having a major medical crisis that needs reassuring words/prayers. I see the progress our church has made by moving to a virtual service and all the Facebook Live devotions that were not part of my vocabulary seven months ago. Give thanks in all things.
As Conference Moderator my phone contained pictures of several events from the interviews last year with our new Outdoor Ministry Executive Director, pictures of the now annual, “Learn It, Live It, Share It” faith formation events and trainings, to my computer inbox containing all the Association and Conference newsletters as they reformat to a common style. Also, I find thanksgiving in collaborative partnerships that began forming under the original Vision Document from 2018 and have accelerated under the leadership of joint, monthly gatherings of executive teams of the Associations and Board of Directors and a smaller, almost weekly gathering of the One Heart Working Group that is clarifying the best ways we can work together into the future. And how the ministers of our association and conference now gather every two weeks to be sure we are all pulling together, attempting to make sure the boat is heading in a unified direction. I have witnessed the way that the Board of Directors has pulled together to develop consensus on our Outdoor Ministries program under the leadership of Jill Frey, reuniting all OM functions under Jill’s leadership; newly formed initiatives leading to networks dealing with Anti-Racism, Stewardship, Mental Health, Faith Formation. And how the Conference took bold steps to move to a “virtual” office format, partnering with United Church Homes to handle our bookkeeping chores and SONKA’s, as a modeling of yet better ways to be, not just good stewards saving about $80,000 in annual costs, but also showing that ministry isn’t diminished when new ways are considered.
There are days when I awaken and think of all the many questions/actions that remain. But no matter what that thought, at the end of the day, I can, with certainty…give thanks to God in all things. And hopefully, in this page…you can be encouraged not to see the lack, but begin to list the things in your life, your local church’s life and the Conference life that would fill far more space than I have allotted…in an attitude of Thanksgiving.
-Rev. David Plant