Pause with Pastor Joel – July 10, 2023

One of the pieces of our bedtime routine with our daughter, Maxine, is that we talk about what we’re grateful for.
For a long time Maxine would just tell me she was thankful for her Momma. Lately she just says, “Everything.”
Part of me wants her to be more specific. Isn’t the goal of naming our gratitude to focus on the things that we really are grateful for?
Yet, the more I reflect on being grateful for everything, the more I see the wisdom of a child.
Paul tells us in his first letter to the Church in Thessalonica that we should, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (5:18, NIV) Some translations say, “give thanks in everything.” Maybe that’s not give thanks FOR everything, as my daughter is saying, but it does call us to an over-arching spirit of thankfulness.
Christians are meant to be grateful people. Paul says in all circumstances! Even when things are great, we can still find something to be thankful for if we are in Christ.
During my time in Goodrich as your pastor I have tried to show my gratitude by sending out thank you notes on a weekly basis. Hopefully over the course of six years you’ve received one at one point or another.
If you haven’t received one, then this is my moment to say, “I’m grateful for all of you.” I’m grateful for your faithfulness, your generosity, your love, your compassion, your heart for mission and your love of Jesus. I’m grateful even though we are now at a moment when I have to bid farewell. Maybe the circumstances aren’t great at this moment, but I’m still grateful.
Gratitude is one of the things that should set us apart as Christians. The rest of the world complains and assumes we should only be grateful when things are good. As those that follow Jesus, we know that we can be grateful in all circumstances and indeed that even when things are perfect, there is still much to be thankful for.
I’m grateful for everything over the last six years. The ups and downs, the good and bad. I am grateful for my time with you, I’m grateful for this church in this community and I’m grateful that you will continue on as the wonderful community of Jesus followers you are even when I’m no longer your pastor.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Amen!

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