Centerport United Methodist Church
The Pastors' messages comes from the November issue of our monthly church newsletter - The Focus.

Giving Gratitude

     In the aftermath of the attacks on September 11th, some men from Texas traveled north with a truckload a meat and the makings of a barbeque pit. They set up their station in lower Manhattan and fed thousands of rescue workers at the World Trade Center site. A group of recovering drug addicts, they spoke about the good southern hospitality received in New York City and all the expressions of gratitude they got for their efforts. “I feel like I’m giving something back for all the wrong I did in my life,” one of them said. “God is giving me a second chance, and this is my way to say thanks.”
We express gratitude in many ways. We pray, we praise, sometimes we may shed tears of relief over our good fortune. But then there are those special times, when we speak more by what we do than what we say, when we give back to God and others in appreciation for what has been given us.
In the Christian scheme of things, thanksgiving is a way of life. It is an attitude of appreciation for all that has been given, and a desire to give something in return. Listen to what the Bible says in 1 Thessalonians: “We urge you, beloved to...encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all...Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”
Giving thanks in all circumstances is quite a trick. Especially for those of us who are used to getting most of what we want and feel deprived if we do not get it. When we live as if we deserve or are entitled to what we have been given, gratitude comes grudgingly. So does joy. And contentment, and peace.
I like what C. K. Chesterton said when he was asked to describe what life is about: “The critical thing is whether we take life for granted or whether we experience it with gratitude.” In this case, taking means receiving, not grasping - extending hands that are open rather than fists that are tightly clenched. Hands that are open not only to receive God’s goodness, but that say thanks by the good we do others.
We all have much to be grateful for---even in these troubled times. My prayer is that, as this Thanksgiving day approaches, we will take gratitude for all the blessings we have been given, and return our thanks not only with our lips around a dinner table but through lives that will make God’s goodness known in our world.  
     
                                                                                                                                                      Gratefully,
 


Pastor Roy        

 


This month we will celebrate Thanksgiving Day. For many of us it is a day focused on what we are getting…the Good Home Cooked Meal…all your favorites…the laughter and joy of time spent with family that you don’t see often enough, the parade on TV, followed by a day of football games, the time off from our jobs and responsibilities of work. All these things that we get to do, we get to experience, we get to enjoy…Amen for Sweet Potato Pie!
On Thanksgiving Day, some of us extend ourselves and reach out to others. We volunteer in soup kitchens where we prepare and serve meals to those who are unable to have that home cooked meal. We share our time and our good intentions, and we are thankful and proud of ourselves, for we have done something that makes us feel good. We feel good about ourselves and our pleased with ourselves for doing these things.
I would like you to take a different look at Thanksgiving…I would like you to think of Thanksgiving Day as: A Day of Gratitude directed toward God!
“I will praise god’s name in song…and glorify him with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord more than an ox…more than a bull with its horns and hoofs.” Psalm 69:30-31                                                                                            
Can you imagine that our singing of a joyful song of thanksgiving to the Lord, is more pleasing to Him than any sacrifice? My Brothers and Sisters in Christ, thanksgiving is a natural element of Christian worship and is a focal component of all Christian life.
So why should we be thankful to God? Take a look at the following verses from 1 Thessalonians:
“9 How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? 10 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith. 11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. 12 May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 13 May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.” 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
 
  • The Church is founded on Faith, Hope and Love; sincerity, not greed, motivates Christian witness
  •  Believers have the assurance of the resurrection of Christ - without knowing all details,
  •  We, as members of the Church, have the responsibility of caring for each other, respect for leadership and commitment to our faithful God
  •  1st Thessalonians calls you to sacrifice yourself in Faith, in Hope, and in Love - for Christ and his Church, as you wait for His promised and guaranteed return
 
So why be thankful to God? We are thankful because we were given: Faith, Hope and Love.
 
Faith: It was by God’s grace that they were saved – through faith. But genuine faith produces genuine good works that adorn the gospel.
 
Hope: Our Christian hope is not incidental to our faith. Our hope produces endurance that endures hardship and persecution for the sake of an eternal crown.
                                                                                                                
Love: We don’t know what that actually looked like in the Thessalonian context but there was something conspicuous about their love because news of it spread throughout the region. Whether it was forgiving those who wronged them; treating women with respect in a society that generally did not; caring for the poor; making themselves servants of others; replacing anger with gentleness, malice with kindness and greed with generosity – the opportunities for love were everywhere.                                                                                                                    
So my Brothers and Sisters, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving:
  • For we have Gratitude for God, because of all He has done for us throughout our history
 
  • Happy Thanksgiving – For personal and national deliverance
 
  • Happy Thanksgiving - for God’s faithfulness to his covenant; and for his forgiveness.
 
  • Happy Thanksgiving - for the healing ministry of Jesus Christ
 
  • Happy Thanksgiving - for Christ’s deliverance of each and every one of us who is a believer from sin  
 
  • Happy Thanksgiving - for God’s gift to us of Grace…in Jesus Christ…
 
 
¨ Happy Thanksgiving - for the Faith exhibited by fellow Christians…Faith that picks us up when we fall
 
  • Happy Thanksgiving – for Hope of better things to come for us, through stronger works and for placing us on the correct path when we stray
 
  • Happy Thanksgiving – for Love demonstrated by fellow Christians who reach out to us when we are alone and unloved, who care for each other, and who collectively form the body of Christ, The Church!
 
My Brothers and Sisters in Christ, when you greet others during your Thanksgiving Day celebrations, don’t forget to take some time and give Thanks and Glory to Our God, and offer your Praise to God, from whom all our blessings truly flow.

Have a Blessed and Enjoyable Holiday

 

 

Brother Wayne Redman
Certified Lay Minister