This past week I was driving home from a meeting late in the evening and turned on my radio. Much to my surprise, Christmas music was being played on one of the popular Orlando radio stations! I could hardly believe my ears, but after looking at my calendar, I did have to admit that we are pretty close to the Christmas season. Before the rush, excitement, and merriment of Advent (the season before Christmas) and Christmas is another important holiday: Thanksgiving. In my family, we do our very best not to switch our decorations or music to Christmas until the day after Thanksgiving, to give proper time for pumpkin pie and more importantly, gratitude.
While the holiday season officially begins on Thanksgiving, here at Suntree, we’ve been engaging in a season of gratitude and generosity since the beginning of November. If you’ve been around, you’ve heard us speak all about God’s call to generosity in our lives through our Taking the Next Step series. We have been praying together, “Lord, where do you want me to be in my giving?” and asking ourselves what it would take to become a generous people. We’ve heard from congregation members about their journeys of generosity and giving, and last week, we heard about the next steps offered to us through the Step Chart, tithing, and through the Personal Growth Plan worksheet.
In each of these tools, moments, and testimonies, we’ve been invited to consider what God has done for us already, and to be grateful. In this, through our gratitude, we’ve reflected on what it could mean to give back to the Creator and Sustainer of all life. We’ve also been encouraged to examine how grateful we are for the ministries of this church, and to return that gratitude in support for the ministries and vision of our church.
Last week at our church council, one of our faithful church members and leaders, Toni Zahn, reflected on what she has been learning through this Generosity Campaign. Afterwards, she wrote,
Throughout the campaign, we reflected upon what it means to return God’s love joyfully, faithfully and oftentimes sacrificially. “Give thanks, with a grateful heart” is not just a hymn that is included in our musical library. It is an ingrained core value that identifies us as faithful and committed followers of Christ. It is the basic expression of love that in Colossians 3:19 St. Paul tells us is like a simple garment that we should put on everyday.
I, like Toni, have learned so much from this campaign. At my Thanksgiving table this year, I will say how grateful I am to be your pastor, and how grateful I am to learn from you about what it means to be generous. This season of generosity and our giving campaign has reminded me that there is abundance all around me, if I choose to look for it. In this, I know I’m being called to take the next step, too.
As we all Take the Next Step this Sunday, I encourage you to come to worship with an open and grateful heart. Spend time reading our scripture for this week, 2 Corinthians 8-9, and think about what God has already done in your life. It’ll prepare your heart for worship, and the season of abundance and gratitude ahead.
See you Sunday,