Pastor's Word

Always room for GRADITUDE….

A classmate sent me the following:

“Thank you, god, for this good life and forgive us if we do not love it enough.”

(Garrison Keilor)

          “always give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (St. Paul, the letter to the Ephesians 5:20 in the NT)

          Do you remember what mother used to say? “The magic words are, please and thank you.” She was right, wasn’t she!

This started me thinking about all for which I am grateful and have not given “thanks be to God” and others in a long time. So I started to put together a list (which ultimately will be insufficient) and I encourage you to scribble a list for yourself. You can do it while watching TV, or sharing a family dinner (for which you have said grace) or just before you nod off to sleep, or over that first cup of coffee… make that “connection”… Perhaps you will experience what I have. Giving thanks, showing gratitude is a real spirit-lifter. The more you are grateful, the brighter you glow and higher you raise your chin. Gratitude is an internal elevator that raises your outlook. It is a magnet that attracts the best in people.

          Here are some list starters: Thank you, God, that you are God and real. Thank you that I (you) am. That you (name people you love, work with, study with, play golf with, go to church with, etc.) are. See how green is the place in which we live.

          If you don’t know where to start, just begin naming all the types of work, occupations, vocations there are, the phone book is full of them and new ones are being created every day.

          There was an old joke, which I still think is funny, (dates me) about the difference between an optimist and a pessimist: the optimist wakes up, stretches and says “Good morning, God.” The pessimist wakes up, grumbles and says, “Good God, morning.” Who do you think has the most fun in life?

          I had the privilege of taking the basic course on Psychology taught by instructor Robert Tyler in which he reminded us that no matter where they are born, babies smile at a very, very, very young age. It seems like it is built into our human nature to smile. One of the pleasantries of Decatur is that strangers return your smiles when you give them away. Think of gratitude as a verbal smile.

          Back to my list of for what I am grateful. Of course, life itself, health, age, meals, medicines, etc. Even frustrations can be a concealed blessing. One of the meals, medicines, etc. Even frustrations can be a concealed blessing. One of the perks of growing old is that you discover alternate ways of doing something.

          I am especially glad for my church family. When I was in the hospital, I received a lovely bouquet of flowers and the card read “from your church family” and it made me think of how the congregation is really a wonderful family, with all the talents and gifts and voices and handshakes and songs and prayers and good cooks etc. Like a family, there is a healthy variety. Now that I am an octogenarian I wish I had spent more time knowing my siblings and stepbrothers and stepsisters. So part of my joy is listening to members of my church family tell me ab out their lives. First Lutheran is a wonderful, wonder filled family. Each one worth knowing each other.

          I am also grateful to God, to our Bishop, to the Church Council, to you, for the honor and privilege of letting this old man still serve the Lord as an interim pastor in a church he loves because it is constantly drawing him closer to the Saviour.

          Now I am ready to step back into my role as an ordinary church member taking up my chair at the regular worship services. But I also wonder what God has in store for me next?

          I am grateful to our Loving God that He/She sent the Rev. David Hofer to us and that Pr. Hofer was willing to fill the need we had for a “preaching Pastor.” He served First Lutheran, not only at regular and special services but in other ways which brought continuity to our First Lutheran ministry. His preaching which included truly spiritual insights as well as his sharing of his various life experiences brought us closer to God. We know that God has more work for him ahead and we pray continued blessings upon him and his loved ones.

          So::: Don’t give up. Give Thanks to God, to those you love, to each other. Be an investigator, Look! Discover! Keep finding reasons to be thankful, especially to the CREATOR.

          With love and affection, and prayers for continued blessings, Pastor Al

P.S. I once found a paperback book titles “25,000 Things I am Thankful For.” It was thrice as thick as a phone book with print half as small as phone book print. After reading a few pages, my eyes grew tired and my brain scrambles. So donated it to a book drive and thought, “How much better to make my own list.” So I am. Maybe you will too!

         Pastor AL