O God, Make Us Thankful

posted Nov 18, 2021, 10:02 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,

Blessings of joyful gratitude to you!

It is that time of year when we gather around tables to eat a lot of food (!) and give thanks to God. During this season, I normally write to you about all that God has accomplished through our ministries. To be sure, we have continued to be the hands and feet of Christ in our community, even during a pandemic. But for this year, I wish to speak to the practice of being grateful.

Think back with me to November of 2020. At this time, we weren’t having worship in person, but on Zoom; the New Jericho Choir/Children and Worship were meeting on Zoom on Monday nights; we didn’t have Joyful Noise Adult Choir rehearsals; Bible study was on Zoom, as were Consistory meetings; there were certainly no concerts or cabarets; we didn’t have any of our annual dinners or First Sunday brunches; and our Youth Group Fall Fun Auction did not take place.

That was last year.

Now it is November 2021. We have a vaccine for COVID-19. And the New Jericho Choir and the Joyful Noise Adult Choir are meeting in person. We are worshiping together in the sanctuary every Sunday, along with having coffee hour and First Sunday brunch. Bible study is hybrid — in person and on Zoom; and we had not one, but two, cabarets. And our auction? This year the Youth Group and Ruth Circle raised $4,200 for local and global ministries.    

O God, make us thankful.

Every time we return to a ministry that was put on hold due to the pandemic, I have paused to be grateful, and remember that not only are we here and alive, but also we are able to do this particular ministry once again. Surely, COVID-19 is still present and people are still dying from it, and we should continue to pray for those who are affected by such a tragedy. Knowing this, and realizing that we are still far from “the before times,” I am making it a daily practice — and not just on Thanksgiving Day — to turn my face toward hope while reminding myself never to take such small acts like gathering for worship, or sitting at a table sharing a meal with folks for granted. The writer of Hebrews says, And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together . . . but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10.24-25).

Some of us were bantering before worship last Sunday, jokingly asking the eternal question — “What is the meaning of life?” Today, indeed every day, and especially in November of 2021, the answer is — It’s all about gratitude, people. It’s all about grace, beloved one.

I look forward to being with you in church this Reign of Christ Sunday at 10:30 AM in person or on FaceBook live to give thanks to the Holy One. Our New Jericho Choir will be ringing the Krystal Bells and singing “This is the Day”/“Father, We Adore You” and the Joyful Noise Adult Choir will sing “Soon and Very Soon” for our Anthem. I will be preaching from 2 Samuel 23.1-5 and John 18.33-37 and my sermon title is A Wise Reign. As you are aware, we have resumed congregational singing and since the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 is present in our state everyone must wear a mask for worship and indoor church events. Thank you for your cooperation in loving yourself, your neighbor, and keeping everyone safe and healthy. As a way of expressing your gratitude to God, the Consistory and I invite you to send in/bring a special Thanksgiving offering in addition to your regular offering so we can continue to do the good work to which God has called us. Perhaps you would like to give to the Pride Fund, or the Capital Campaign Fund to help pay for the tree work we just had done, or an additional offering to the General Fund to help pay for the operating expenses of the church. Whatever you give, may you do so with a glad and generous heart.

And speaking of giving thanks, the Bayshore Interfaith Ministerium is having a Thanksgiving worship this Sunday, November 21 at 5 PM at Temple Shalom in Aberdeen. You may attend in person (masked) or participate via Zoom. 

May your Thanksgiving be safe, healthy, and full of joy as you remember and celebrate the One who gives us abundant life. 

In gratitude for being your pastor and the holy call of loving you,

Pastor Trish