Dear Members and Friends of St. John,
You know that the Thanksgiving Day national holiday was observed last week. So, what are YOU thankful for? You might be shaking your head and asking, “Pastor, isn’t that holiday past? Shouldn’t we be focusing on something other than Thanksgiving?”
The Thanksgiving holiday may be in the rear view mirror for this year, but God’s children are called to give thanks to Him at all times. God “reminds us not to forget” thanking and praising Him, even when it is not Thanksgiving Day. One of my favorite Psalms is Psalm 103. The first 5 verses of this Psalm from David use these words to call us to thank and praise God:
1 Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits--
3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. (Psalm 103:1-5)
David must have been especially aware of God’s grace in his life when, inspired by God’s Spirit, he wrote this Psalm. So in Psalm 103 we are called to praise God with all that we are. We are “reminded not to forget” ALL God’s blessings in our life. And, God, speaking through David, even gives us a list in this Psalm of reasons for thankfulness. We can be thankful for forgiveness and for healing (v. 3), for eternal life and for spiritual blessings (v. 4), and we can be thankful for material blessings (v. 5). God is good and gracious at all times and we, in turn, want to be thanking Him all our lives.
So, back to my beginning question, What ARE you thankful for?”
First of all, even after a holiday with moist turkey and family gathered, I am eternally grateful for God’s grace and love in Jesus. I am a sinner and deserve none of God’s love. But, as I read Psalm 103 I know that my forgiveness, my salvation, and that all my blessings are given because of God’s saving grace in His Son Jesus Christ. God’s love in His Son helps me to see and to receive all my other spiritual and physical blessings.
At this time I am also especially thankful for faithful doctors and modern medicine. On Wednesday, November 22, I had arthroscopic surgery on my left knee. This was not a major knee replacement. But I had this surgery before on my right knee and it took me from 6 months to a year to fully recover. This time my left knee had failed worse before surgery than my right knee did before the previous surgery. However, after surgery this time, I was able to be active and out of the house each day. I even went fishing on Monday after the Wednesday surgery (and caught a few fish). So, I am thankful for our local hospital, and for God’s gifts in modern medicine. I wrote the last few weeks about our culture crumbling. But I am thankful for all who continue to faithfully serve God and who serve each of us on a daily basis with their chosen professions and jobs. I’m thankful for doctors and nurses, for honest businessmen and for those who work hard in government offices to help others. I’m thankful for faithful teachers, for office managers, and those picking up our trash. God blesses us with other people in our lives who serve faithfully and honestly. And I am thankful.
I am thankful for the grace of God when unexpected trials happen. This past Tuesday, November 28, five local Lutheran pastors were driving to the Kenai peninsula for an early morning meeting. As they left Potters Marsh and were driving along Turnagain Arm they hit a patch of black ice and ended up colliding with the rock cliff across the highway. Two pastors ended up being treated at the hospital and released, but no one received life-threatening injuries. Today I am thankful there was no on-coming traffic, that there were faithful first responders, and that my friends and God’s servants are safe. God is good and gracious, and I am grateful.
I am thankful for the grace of God seen in worship. On Sunday, November 26, God acted in the baptism of Remington Nelsen. What a joy to see God reach down and call a child to His eternal family! But God is present every time two or three gather in His name. So I give thanks!
I’m thankful for family. In the midst of preparing for a busy Thanksgiving Day our new son-in-law to be, Aaron Smith, put up new shelves in the little space under our stairway. This cramped space that had stored a “pile” of stuff is now organized and accessible. It seems like a small thing, but to a neat freak like myself, this new organization touched my heart. Even better, is having a young man who loves our daughter, who is joining our family, and who wants to help. God is gracious and I give thanks.
I have many more reasons for thanks. I know others who have recently received good news from doctors. I visited a young man in prison on Tuesday, and it is a blessing to see how his faith has matured. We sadly lost a friend to death on Saturday, November 25, but this child of God knew her Lord and is with Him now. I give thanks for each of these gifts of God.
Actually, giving thanks AFTER Thanksgiving Day may be even more meaningful than going around the table on Thanksgiving Day and stating reasons for thanks. That is a worthwhile exercise, but on Thanksgiving Day thankfulness is expected. However, we always have reason to thank our Lord. Right now, like David my heart overflows. Thank you, Lord!!
A Child of God, Overwhelmed by the Grace of God and Giving Him Thanks,
P.S. Remington Nelsen was baptized on Sunday, November 26. Here are some pictures. https://photos.app.goo.gl/0CICLDi3VbSkCkD02
P.P.S. I am thankful that the five pastors traveling to Funny River are safe after their vehicle spun out of control into the rock wall just past Potter Marsh. Here are pictures of the vehicle. https://photos.app.goo.gl/hczPTqCj9vrdO0IW2
P.P.P.S. Here are some pictures of our daughter Mary and her fiancée, Aaron. https://photos.app.goo.gl/6WWL9gx14zlYUJKm1 Their wedding is December 30 at 2:00 p.m.. The December newsletter will include an invitation to all St. John members. Also, in this family picture, Aaron is on the right standing behind Mary. https://photos.app.goo.gl/woHZVweoHL3QdtoT2
P.P.P.P.S. (whew – That’s a lot of “PS’s”) After arthroscopic knee surgery on Wednesday I got to go fishing on Monday. Here are the two rainbow trout I kept. https://photos.app.goo.gl/Swvv0hwPjIuW7lS92
ABOUT ‘THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR’ - I am sending these e-mail messages, hopefully weekly, to all St. John members and friends whose e-mails I have. (I am regularly adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.) However, if you do not want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message.