Posted by Sheila Thomasson

I was reading Paul’s Letter to the Philippians recently and got caught up in one of the early verses of the first chapter:  3 I thank my God every time I remember you, 4 constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, 5 because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now (Phil 1:3-5). With that in mind, it seemed a great time to consider a spirit of thanksgiving and to share with you some of what you and I have to be thankful for.
Let’s return to our Christmas season. First, I want to thank the congregation and Vestry for the many expressions of love and support that were offered to both Judy and me. The Christmas gift the Vestry presented on behalf of the congregation was a gracious sharing of our many blessings, and I thank you. Additionally, Judy and I are so grateful for the many cards and gifts. We feel truly blessed to share the Christmas season with St. John’s. And before we leave the season, I want to lift up with thankfulness our Children’s Christmas program. Their program set the mood for the celebration of Christ’s birth. As soon as we left that program we moved to our Christmas Eve and Morning worship services. Once again our church was filled with people seeking to hear “good news of great joy.” As one who is always touched by the incarnation of God, I thank you for inviting and sharing Christmas with your church family and friends.
Then it was New Year’s. Who can enter a new year without being thankful for the opportunities to make changes and perhaps get it right this time? With resolutions and hope, we begin a New Year with thanks and hope that the New Year brings blessings from God and joy in life. May we be hopeful and thankful for God’s gifts and presence with us each day!
On January 16th, a new Vestry moved into their roles as committee chairs at their first meeting. Each and every year, I am reminded of the great talent, skills, and experience that exists in our congregation as the Vestry goes about the work of the church. Our Vestry members approach their work with dedication and faith and truly seek to serve our Lord and you with the decisions they make. We can all be thankful for the commitment of these folks to Christ and you. Coming up on February 8th, our Vestry will hold a retreat to look at our ministry and goals for 2014. I ask for your prayers as we seek God’s direction for our church in the coming months. All new, existing, and former Vestry members deserve our thanks.
And right around the corner, just a month away, is Lent. I am always thankful for the gift that Lent brings, for the Lenten season asks us to contemplate the journey of Jesus to Jerusalem where he faces a trial, crucifixion, death, and then a resurrection in order to redeem humanity. Taking the journey with Jesus truly makes us thankful.
Hopefully, as you have been reading this letter you have begun to feel great thankfulness for your life, the people in it with you, and the very touch of God you experience living each day. There are so many things and people to thank God for – I hope you will spend some time this year with a spirit of intentional thankfulness. Look for times when you can say “Thank You,” and then say it often. Like the Apostle Paul, I thank my God every day for each of you and for our church, praying that we will be the place where people experience the risen Lord through us and find in us a home where they become family.
Thank you for sharing in the Gospel with me.
Pastor Butler +