Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. There’s not much expectation – no gifts to bring, no cards to send, and no expectation of dressing up. Just eating and being with loved ones. Oh yeah, and football! Lots and lots of football!
Something happens in November. People turn their minds toward giving. There are food collections, coat drives, and toy drives, too. Some people even get a little nicer – some! It’s amazing how our mood subtly changes when the calendar turns to November. We become more focused on giving to others. More focused on gratitude.
The past year, in fact the past three years, has taken a toll on us. COVID is still around, gun violence is out of control, racial unrest continues, the wars in Ukraine and the Middle East, and general incivility! And then there’s the pain of those we lost along the way. But I hear the Apostle Paul saying:
" 4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
So, what is Thanksgiving all about? Maybe it’s about being thankful that we can take everything, our problems, worries, pain, grief, take everything to God in exchange for peace. Not the kind of peace that the world talks about. But internal, unfathomable, trusting peace that God is still God, and our trust is in Him.
Be encouraged friends. The Lord is near. Though it seems that this world is out of control, we don’t have to let our minds be out of control. Be of sober thought. Trusting in the One who created all things to also bring all things into order. And be thankful. Be thankful that we are not left to fend for ourselves. Be thankful that we don’t have to have all of the answers. Be thankful that we have a God who never sleeps, who never forgets about us, and who never has a bad day! In everything, we should give thanks!
This Thanksgiving, may we remember our gracious Lord whose hand is ever upon us. Remember the many ways in which God has been with you, provided for you, cared for you, and carried you when the load was too heavy....and give thanks.
Let us also remember those who see no reason to give thanks; those for whom this day is a reminder of the loss of loved ones; those who are homeless; those who have lost hope. Remember the families in Ukraine, Israel, and Gaza who are facing unimaginable suffering, and others all around the world who are suffering from devastation. Say a prayer, lend a hand, give yourself in service to others...and give thanks.
Thanksgiving is not just a day. Instead, may it prompt us to look for ways in which we can be kind to others and show our gratitude to God on a daily basis and in every single thing. Don't let the cynicism of the world stop the work that God has for you to do. You are useful to the Lord and if you have not discovered your purpose yet - just keep doing good and give God thanks for the work of your hands and your heart.
Here's an exercise for you. Every day, find something for which to be thankful. It’s easy on good days, but even when times get hard, we can find something for which to be thankful. Just try it for about a week and see if it doesn’t begin to change your outlook.
This Sunday we will give God thanks through the sermon: In Everything Give Thanks. You will also receive a pledge card that you can take home, offer a prayer to the Lord, and return it the following Sunday with your pledge for 2024. That will be our Consecration Sunday, November 26, when we will give God thanks through our pledges.
God has blessed Green Trails over the year, in spite of our financial challenges. People have come to Christ, youth have been confirmed, children are learning about the great love of our Heavenly Father, and we celebrated fifty-five years of faithful service. For these things and more, we give thanks. In fact, in everything we give thanks!
Rodney (RJ) Cooper Memorial will be held on Saturday, December 2, 10:00 am at the Friendship Village Chapel. A reception will follow.
UWF Cookie Walk will be on Saturday, December 2, 9:00-11:00am. Choose from an assortment of delicious cookies and gingerbread people!
Consecration Sunday will be on November 26. Please bring your pledge cards and your faith, and together we will pray for God’s continued provision for the coming year. As our memory verse reminds us: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! (Philippians 4:13)
Advent Events will be forthcoming! Check your email or the website for the Cantata, Advent Adventures, and all things Advent! The churchwide Advent study will be: The Heart That Grew Three Sizes. It’s based on the Seuss favorite How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Could it be that the one thing we hate is the one thing that changes our lives? Join us for a lively discussion, video, and meal! The study starts on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 6:30pm, with a potluck dinner at 5:45pm.
Christmas Eve we will celebrate twice! We will have our regular Sunday morning worship at 10:00am. Then we will return at 5:00pm for a time of carol singing, story telling, and candle lighting. There will be no service on Christmas Day.
As you can see, Green Trails is on the move. We refuse to be defeated. We will rejoice always and then rejoice some more! God has been too good to us to not glorify His name in the world. And in everything we will give thanks!
And finally, on behalf of the Leadership Board and staff, we give thanks to God for you, the members and friends of the church called Green Trails. We could not do what we do if it were not for your love, your service, and your support of the mission.
May you and your family enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving!
With Gratitude and Love,