Front*piece - Give Thanks in Every Situation


November 08, 2016

“Come, ye thankful people, come.” That’s what we sang as we walked from Mr. Morrissey’s 6th grade classroom to the gym at the Stratford Avenue School. We were carrying the cans of corn and peas and green beans and cranberry sauce.  The front of the gym became an irregular mound of what each of us had brought from home, from the bags from A & P and Gristede’s grocery stores, and from cupboard shelves. “Raise the song of harvest home” we most certainly did as we made our way to our designated sitting area.

“Give thanks in every situation” (I Thessalonians5.18, CEB).  

A cheery, comfortable invitation.  An Ideal.  Hopeful.  And difficult!

In recent days we’ve experienced the loss of two police officers at the hand of a very troubled individual. Earlier this fall flood waters rose in northeast Iowa, washing away dreams and damaging homes and farms. A hurricane decimated Haiti and inundated southeastern US and northeastern Philippines. Pre-election rhetoric caused people to be more at each other than with each other.  A Commission charged to help our church find “A Way Forward” is already experiencing being tugged in many directions besides forward.

“Give thanks in every situation.”

I guess it’s a matter of outlook.  How we see things.  What we’re willing to look for.  What we believe.

There’s much to give thanks for in our Iowa United Methodist community just now.  Our bishop, guide, and friend, Bishop Laurie has been in Iowa for barely 10 weeks, and yet, it feels like a wonderful long season already.  She invites us to believe in who we are, as the created of the good Creator.  She gently nudges us to stand up straight, strong, certain in our faith, just as did the bent over woman as Jesus’ invitation.  She reminds us that we are called and “bound together in the common experience of…ministry.”

The Central District gives thanks for its newly formed ministry team.  A church gets Dinosaurs Before Dark and other books into the hands of young readers to “Change A Child’s Story.”  A church creates a center for youth seniors, and community.  The camping season that gave over 1,500 families something to be thankful for is met with a resounding “yes!” by the young campers.  Flood survivors feel the warmth  – body and spirit – of prayer shawls and the healing touch of praying hands.  Women hear the invitation to “serve faithfully in God’s kingdom [and] share the good news.  Retirees are given permission to  “waste time with Jesus” and foster “a positive difference in the world.”

“Give thanks in every situation.”

Through tears and laughter, through exhaustion and energy, through impatience and calm, through the time you simply want to give up and the times you’re ready to charge ahead, “Give thanks in every situation.