November is a month that invites us to remember and give thanks. It began with All Saints Day that invites us to remember the saints who have graced our lives and who have entered their eternal rest. It is a special time to thank God for loved ones and friends who have died. It is also a time to consider what being a saint means. Hymn 712, I Sing a Song of the Saints of God, captures it well. The first verse is
I sing a song of the saints of God, patient and brace and true, who toiled and fought and lived and died for the Lord they loved and knew. And one was a doctor, and one was a queen, and one was a shepherdess on the green; they were all of them saints of God, and I mean, God helping, to be one too.”
The next holiday that called us to remember and give thanks was Veterans Day. My family is full of veterans; my father, sister, and brother-in-law were all career military. My husband and generations of his family also served in the military. Veterans Day invites us to remember veterans’ self-sacrifice and the sacrifices their families make for the welfare of the entire nation and to be thankful. Many of them carry burdens-some seen and some unseen, their entire lives from experiences in war. Their sacrifice has lasting impact and yet they make it willingly. The love that Jesus modeled for us was self-sacrificing love. It is the kind of love he calls us to share with each other.
The last holiday this month also invites us to remember and give thanks. Thanksgiving for me is a family time of lots of people, laughter, noise and commotion. There is always lots of food. In the midst of this, I thank God for the abundance in my life-an abundance of love from family, friends, and brothers and sisters in Christ; an abundance of food; and so many things I take for granted-clean water, fresh air, indoor plumbing, a sturdy house, good health, and so much more.
Over the Church Conference season, I was able to visit all the West District churches and hear about their ministries and goals for the coming year. I got to hear people share how the church touched their lives and how they experienced Christ through the church. In this season of remembering and giving thanks, I give thanks for all of you, for the ways you are making Christ present in your church, community, and beyond. I give thanks for the many different ways we worship across our district. I have enjoyed worshipping in so many different congregations over these last five months. While I experience differences among our churches, there is a common Spirit and a common love for Christ that unites us and runs through all of our worship services.
I pray that you remember and give thanks this week as you celebrate Thanksgiving in whatever way is traditional for you. And that together our voices join together giving thanks to God our Creator through Jesus Christ.