This past Sunday, I got to preach for the Ministerial Alliance Community Thanksgiving Service. It was a pleasure to engage with scripture, and prayerfully prepare that sermon. I spent a lot of my effort thinking about the good things here in Pauls Valley and the good ministry that happens here, from Samaritan Food Pantry to Trunk -or-Treat to the newly formed Garvin County Hope for Tomorrow, which is trying to keep people with unstable lives warm this winter.
There is a lot that the City of Pauls Valley can be proud of, but I don't want to miss out on lifting up this special congregation. First Presbyterian Church has done so much and consistently does so much. You can all be proud of yourselves, too. Here are just some of things I am thankful for in our church:
I am thankful for the big welcome we have received here in this congregation.
I am thankful that the love of God is evident in this congregation in so many ways.
I'm thankful for the use of the Manse, and I'm thankful for the people who help keep this asset of the church in good repair.
I'm thankful for the people who maintain the church building, too, and the grounds.
I'm thankful for the leadership of the Session, for the good works of the Deacons, for the faithful stewardship of the Trustees.
I am incredibly thankful for all the help that the staff give me: Jessica keeping the place neat and clean, Jack co-preparing and co-leading worship each week, and Tina doing so many things large and small and all invaluable.
I'm thankful for the leadership of the choir in worship and for the beauty of the music they sing to enhance our experience of the worship of God.
I'm thankful for the generosity this congregation shows whether in our regular giving or when we're collecting money for special offerings like the Deacon's fund or Goodland Academy or Samaritan Food Pantry, or whether we're collecting things like Trunk or Treat candy or warm hats, socks, and gloves for kids in need.
I am thankful for the kids who brighten the church every Sunday and who remind us to love simply, as God loves us like a child's best friend.
I am thankful for the friendships and friends who have taken us away from the job, who have broken bread with us in restaurants and homes, who have just hung out.
I am thankful for the people who study in Sunday schools and Bible Studies and book clubs. I am thankful for those who teach and prepare home-lessons and help others to learn.
I am thankful for people who must stay home, but worship and study and pray at home anyway; you are part of our community, and prove that we are more than a building. I pray special blessing on you and hope that whatever keeps you at home changes so you can be here with us, whether improved health or the end of the pandemic or just an opportunity to travel so we can meet each other in person.
I am thankful for the people who call us out of ourselves and lead by example in loving others.
I am thankful for the people who sneak into the church and do many little necessary things so that all the rest can be enjoyed by our congregation and can run smoothly.
I am thankful for every person and family who worships with us. This is our greatest joy: to worship God, together.
Have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving, and I'll see you in Advent!