Happy Thanksgiving

This week during my sermon, I asked how thankful do you think you would have been if you were among the first pilgrims?  They left Europe on creaky wooden ships; bound for a place they had never seen and could only imagine.   The trip was stormy and dangerous.    Not all completed the journey.   They landed in a place where the soil was rocky and hard to till.  They had to hunt for food with muskets.  With bare hands and few tools, they built houses.  They suffered from diseases that killed half of them.  After all of this, they took the time to thank God with grateful hearts.

The deeper meaning of Thanksgiving is not so much about thanking God for the bounty of our lives.  Rather it is learning to live our lives with grateful hearts no matter our circumstances.  To have a grateful heart is to be open to all that life offers, the good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly, the happy and the sad. To have a grateful heart is a way of being in the world; it is not an act we must perform.  Life itself is the gift and being able to live that gift in a community of caring folks, such as here at Cason, is truly a blessing.

The thanksgiving holiday is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States, although thanking God for our blessings is a spiritual discipline that should not be limited to a single day.  Along with expanding our waistlines, our preparation for and celebration of the holiday can be the impetus toward growing an attitude of gratitude that will carry over into the rest of the year. In his commentary on 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, John Wesley writes, “Thanksgiving is inseparable from true prayer; it is almost essentially connected with it.” Giving thanks is as essential to our spiritual growth as prayer.

The practice of “saying grace” or “asking the blessing” or “giving thanks” for the food–whether it is a meager bowl of soup or a filled table of a thanksgiving feast–is to acknowledge that we and our bodies rely upon something outside of ourselves to sustain us. We give thanks for the people whom we don’t see or often acknowledge the people who plow, plant, and pick, the people who grow, harvest, and process, and the people who bring it to our markets, our doors, and our tables.

We also say thanks for the people who are around the table and remember those who have no table to gather round nor loved ones with whom to gather. We take a moment to PAUSE and acknowledge our need for the sustaining physical and spiritual nourishment which we receive from God our Creator–asking that God would bless our food that we might truly be a blessing to others.
I am thankful for the opportunity to serve as the pastor here at Cason.  Although it was never my intention, and I had a few questions for God when I was called, over the past few months I have felt so blessed to work with all of you and to lead this amazing church into the future.  As I said Sunday, something is happening here at Cason.  There is a feeling, an almost tangible feeling of excitement, such as I have not felt in my time here.  That feeling is the Holy Spirit at work, and so many are being touched and moved to give, serve, pray and love.  I’m excited to see where this takes us, but for now, I just give thanks that God continues to bless us.  And Wesley was right, giving thanks is essential for Spiritual growth.

So, again, Thank You!  Thank you for being so welcoming, so supportive, so filled with grace for my ministry and the ministry of Cason.  I’m looking forward to the end of this year, and for what God will bring us in 2023.

Pastor David.

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