November within the Christian calendar begins with the celebration of All Saints Day. It is said that John Wesley had a special place for this day in his liturgical heart. Why? Perhaps it is because this day as all days within the Christian calendar, are set apart as a day to remember.
On All Saints Day, we are called to remember the saints who have helped to shape and form us in our walk with Jesus. We celebrate people within our families, the family that raised and nurtured us in the home and the family in the church who built upon our nurture and growth as followers of Christ.
All Saints Day celebrates our immediate, local saints, who we knew personally, who mentored, and nurtured us on weekly if not a daily basis. But it is also a day that appropriately lifts up the saints across the globe who have faithfully and in many instances courageously lived lives that continually pointed to our Lord Jesus. All these who have touched our lives and are now part of the great cloud of witnesses should be remembered. We remember with sadness in their presence no longer among us, but also with joy in the love they shared and in the firm belief of the promise of eternity.
The week of Thanksgiving is a national holiday. It is a time set aside, as it’s name implies, to give thanks. For me, thanks is an outward expression of an internal response to grace and blessing in our lives. A word for that internal response is gratitude.
Gratitude is an essential ingredient in our lives to know and experience true joy. Are we not called to be grateful as response to God’s acts of graciousness in our lives? I say, Yes!
Psalm 67 is a psalm for all peoples invoking God’s grace in asking that God be with us (making his face to shine upon us). Let us acknowledge how the earth has yielded its increase in our lives, how God has blessed us and humbly ask that God may continue to be present. Remember from the Letter of James, “draw close to God and God will draw close to you.”
And we close the year and begin anew the Christian calendar November 28th as the first Sunday in Advent. Advent is our time to rehearse and refresh our preparation for receiving Christ into the world and into our hearts.
So with hearts of gratitude, may we be moved to allow God to use us to be a blessing in this world for another these coming weeks.
We still have some shoe boxes to fill and Angel Tree lists will be out in a few days. Let us be a blessing from God in the name of Jesus Christ so that even the ends of the earth will revere God’s holy name.
+ Pastor Jim