“Come as you are”
We want you to feel at home with us. Casual or dressy? We want you to be comfortable, whether it be heels or tennis shoes, suit or t-shirt. We’re just glad to see you.
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
A Message for September from Pastor Mike
‘Rhythms of Gratitude’
I had a friend in my latter days of schooling, of whom the phrase, “knee high to a grasshopper” was probably inspired. She had short flowing hair, and a voice that could hit any note and pierce any heart. I admired her, and still admire her, and it all began with a lunch.
It was during a midday meal siesta after a long morning of lectures, where we got to talking about our experiences of youth group as teenagers. And she shared with me a practice, picked up from her middle school youth pastor, that stuck with her since. It was the spiritual discipline of gratitude.
At first it sounded oddly forced, “So you make yourself feel thankful everyday?” She chuckled at my naïveté and clarified, “No it’s not necessarily about feeling grateful, because a lot of times you can’t feel something you’re not. Practicing gratitude brings about the feeling itself over time, but it’s more of a rhythm of recognizing God with God. Everyday I end with three gems of gratitude, given to Jesus in prayer for what he did that day to me or around me.”
As my friend was talking, the charisma in her voice grew almost into a melody. And then those words from 1st Thessalonians 5 sailed through my awareness, “16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Gratitude, she taught me, is both an automatic and manual response, a healthy byproduct of a heart that is faithfully oriented to the will of Jesus. It’s not only a kind of marker to look for, but also a marker to shoot for. So, as we have crossed the Rubicon of 1 year together, let’s take a moment to practice this ancient spiritual discipline.
This past year has been a whirlwind of ‘news’ for this spry green south-easterner, who has made more than his fair share of blunders and also been privy to quite a few blessings. You were there to let me in the building when I locked myself out 17 minutes into my first day on the job. You were gracious when the sermon or liturgy fell flat that Sunday, and the one after that. You were extravagant with invitations to dinner and surprise meals on my desk. You were generous in your trust of my care for your children in confirmation, and your loved ones through listening and interment. And as I say “You” we can also hear those words pointed directly at our very present Lord and Savior.
No it has not been all ‘peaches and cream’, nor should it ever be. For our life together is allied to something ever greater. We are about Jesus Christ and his fantastic news for all people. And so I offer to God and you, simultaneously, a heart filled with gratitude for the honor and privilege of being your pastor. May we rejoice in Christ always, pray to him without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances, because God has been so good. Amen.