By Pastor Steve Woita
During Thanksgiving time Scripture verses such as “O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His mercy lasts forever” (Psalm 136.1) and “Give thanks in all circumstances” (First Thessalonians 5.18) may come to mind. They invite us to a positive lifestyle based on, among other qualities, being thankful. What a great attitude to cultivate!
The writers of these words are not however necessarily oblivious to the challenges life throws at us. Our prayer list at Beautiful Savior is long. Almost daily we learn of someone in need of God’s intervention. Circumstances of family members, friends, neighbors, and around the world can seem overwhelming and dominate our thinking until we wonder if there is anything to be thankful for.
The follower of Jesus Christ is equipped with the Resource of the Living God whose Word continually indicates that life in Christ is good. It doesn’t minimize suffering and disappointment. It does give us cause to be thankful in the midst of trials. This factor gives us a hope and a reason for living that not everyone enjoys.
This year I can honestly be thankful for God’s having placed me as your vacancy pastor. Sharing God’s Word and celebrating the Sacrament with you is a joy. It’s very easy for me to tell long- time friends how much enjoyment there is in serving you. I really like to brag. And bragging about you is fun!
Not that I am the best judge of character or circumstances, but I would like to say that Beautiful Savior is a healthy congregation. No congregation is perfect. Yet there is reason for thanksgiving that among you there is a warm and honest welcome to the visitor. You try to integrate the visitor into the life of the congregation. There is a depth of Biblical understanding among you too. I sense a spirit of servanthood also as many gladly serve one another. The leadership has an apparent Christ-centeredness that is necessary if any church is going to move forward and be in God’s favor. How a congregation lives the Gospel is much more significant than having a near-perfect pastor (just in case you were looking for one).
More importantly you and I can be thankful for our Savior who has not only opened the gate of eternal life for us but has also walked with us thus far. Today the Lord has made us His and called us His people. Today He cares about individual lives and what happens to us. Today God is among us to keep on building His church.
What a fine beginning of a much longer list of things to be thankful for!