Give Thanks to God, Always!

November 17, 2021

Leadership Notes


Thanksgiving is a funny thing. Not the holiday. The holiday is a wonderful thing. The food…the family {whatever shape that takes in your life}…and the beginning of the Christmas season. There are many reasons to celebrate the holiday. While concern over supply chain issues wormed its way into the back of my brain, it was all for naught, as turkeys have been quite plentiful. I've got two in our freezer; one for Thanksgiving and the other for sometime in the spring/summer.


Giving thanks is a funny thing. When? Why? In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Paul says:


"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in

Christ Jesus for you."


Our Christian take on thanksgiving is interesting. "Give thanks in all circumstances." What does that mean to you? What are all circumstances?


When you do a little research, you discover the hardships and difficulties Paul faced as a follower of Jesus Christ. He did not write those words from an ivory tower or while wearing rose-colored glasses, to use the two most readily available clichés. He lived what he wrote. No matter what we are experiencing or going through, give thanks. Can you do that? Do you do that?


Let's look at a slice of life from the past 21 months. It has been a crucible of sorts. Last holiday season brought one set of challenges, while this year brings another. Families are negotiating their gatherings, this time around the vaccinated/unvaccinated dilemma. I'm not keen on mandates. Families will make decisions based on what they believe are appropriate levels of risk. As for me and my family, I believe we have put all that behind us, and are moving forward carefully, cautiously, and unafraid. When Paul says give thanks in all circumstances, winsome comes to mind.


What about when the medical diagnosis and prognosis aren't good? Give thanks? What about when family life is in turmoil? Give thanks? What about when some unfortunate circumstance has rent your plans asunder? Give thanks? It's easy to give thanks when we're healthy, financially fit, well-fed, and liked by all. That's not a true test of faith. What about giving thanks in all things? Can I give thanks to God in all things through Christ who strengthens me?


These past 20+ months have been a challenge for all of us. We've all felt the pressure. I've felt it. People's positions can get so polarized. If I share a perspective or opinion on something, I run the risk of getting hit from all sides. Which tempts me to keep my thoughts to myself. But that goes against my nature and my sense of call. For example, I've recently shared certain critical views of our past two Presidents, and I've wondered about the fallout. I don't like it when I obsess over such things, but I do, sometimes. Regardless, I must remember to always give thanks.


Over the past 20+ months, we've seen fluctuations in worship attendance and financial support for the mission and ministry of Covenant Church. We are not alone. I know there are some folks who were mostly regular parts of Covenant Church who probably won't be when most of us leave the pandemic mindset behind. It's a painful outcome that all too many churches will be familiar with. I turn my concerns for the spiritual lives of the members and friends of Covenant Church over to God. I will give God thanks in all circumstances.


Over the past 20+ months we have seen an outpouring of joyful worship here at 5290 Milwaukee Road. We have expanded our reach with online worship. In small groups and individually, we are engaging in the study of God's Word. We pray for each other and our community. Our Deacons are ministering to our homebound members. Stacia Serafin has begun building a young adults/youth ministry. We delivered 75 boxes to Operation Christmas Child. There's a lot to be thankful for. We give God thanks in all things.


These are challenging times. When hasn't that been the case? We have Jesus Christ and we have each other. And we live by the truth of these words:


Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your

reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be

anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with

thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of

God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your

minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just,

whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is

any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these

things.


- Philippians 4:4-8

And now, your Moment of Spurgeon:


"A blind world this, which always talks about natural laws, and the effects

of natural causes, but forgets that laws cannot operate of themselves, and

that natural causes, so called, are not causes at all unless the First Cause

shall set them in motion."


Much Love and Affection,


Richard

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