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Weekly Update-November 26, 2014
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As I write this it is Tuesday and I’m struggling with how to write a note about Thanksgiving, an update on my health, stewardship, the division happening because of the events in Ferguson, and moving into Advent. I’ve wrestled all day with what to write feeling as if these were disparaging items. But in the end, maybe each is woven together with the faithfulness of gratitude and hope.
As we watch the news unravel in Ferguson and around the country, we are faced with a growing divide among us. Whether race, culture, economics or politics, it feels as if we are growing farther apart rather than being the reflection of what Thanksgiving was supposed to mean. Gathering around a table with those who are different to break bread, share a common meal and become community. My prayer time this morning reflected on the words found written to the Thessalonians, words of how to live in community with one another despite their differences.
Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. – 1 Thessalonians 5:15–19
These words are a recipe for how to come together and learn from one another, support one another, build one another up. I pray this Thanksgiving our communities and people of God will find ways to intentionally live these words, finding ways to practice patience, goodness, joy and thankfulness not only with family and friends, but with those we encounter in the stores, in the hurried moments of traffic, and with strangers God brings along our path. In all the circumstances we find ourselves, even those that feel so divisive and painful, may we find ways to give thanks for the redemptive work of Christ who unites us as one people of God through the grace and love of the cross.
This Thanksgiving I am eternally grateful to God for the healing work happening in my life. It has been a whirlwind since we received the news on October 3 of my cancer diagnosis. A month later I was in surgery and now a month later I will be able to turn another year older. It’s bewildering how quickly one’s world can turn upside down, and how much one can learn about their life. I have been on a physical journey of healing, but a spiritual one as well. I have learned what angels look like – through home-cooked meals, prayer shawls, tokens of faith, cards, gift cards and texts. We have been overwhelmed by the way God has wrapped us in an embrace of faith – his arms reaching us through your tangible acts of love and care. I am grateful to God even with the new steps of facing Chemotherapy which will begin in December, because I know I will find new understanding of not only who I am, but who we are as a family of faith. Thank you for all the ways your love has carried us through. As we gather as a family on Thursday, you will be in all our prayers as we give thanks for the hope you all have offered us.
Sunday we begin the Advent season of expectation and preparation as we ready our homes and heart for the coming of Christ. We invite you to Come Home for Christmas, remembering what it means to bring home the gifts of hope, peace, joy and love God offers us in the gift of Jesus Christ. As we begin the season, may our gratitude for all God gives us overflow in our worship, our giving and our serving in the coming months.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all. May your hearts be full of gratitude, hope and love this holiday.
Grace and peace,