We’re just coming off a very busy Advent and Christmas season and Lent is upon us. For me as a pastor, these two church seasons are busy times of the year. Things have slowed down for a short time during January and February. With things having slowed down, I have started to reflect back on the Christmas season and can recognize the many blessings that as a person, as our church, and as a community we have received. Some of our blessings are right before us and we recognize them immediately. Other blessings are sometimes hidden from us in disguise, yet when we stop to look at all that has happened during this past Advent and Christmas season, there are many blessings to be thankful for, if only we would take the time to recognize them. I receive many publications during the year and I want to share with you an article that talks about blessings. This article comes from the Health Ministry Network Newsletter written by Mary Slutz. I have written some brief thoughts to her writing.
• During the time following the Christmas season we need to consider the blessings we received. (The mess I had to clean up after a party means I have been surrounded by my friends and family.)
• The taxes I pay means I am employed. (As your pastor, you provide not only a paycheck for me but pay for a portion of my health insurance and insurance provides security.)
• The clothes that are a little too snug means I’ve had enough to eat.
• A lawn that needs mowing, gutters that need cleaning and a driveway that needs to be cleared of snow means I have a home. (As a parish, you are providing Reba and me a place to call home.)
• The far spot in the parking lot means I can walk. (I love to park far away from the store entrance giving others an opportunity to park closer. Yes, it also provides exercise for me.)
• The ability to attend the church of my choice means I have the freedom to worship openly. (We have many choices as to where we can attend worship and we are thankful for the Claybanks UMC and the other churches in our community reaching out in Christ’s love to our community.)
• The person in church who sings off-key means I can hear.
• Our heating bills means that we are warm. (At times it can become difficult to meet the budget needs for a church, yet we have been able to meet our expenses and the heat and electricity stay on.)
• The early-morning alarm means I am alive. (More than once I have greeted someone and ask them how their day has gone, and a beautiful response I get is that, “I was able to put my feet on the floor as I got out of bed this morning and another beautiful day is before me.”)
• The extra work of hosting my family means my loved ones are nearby. (For Reba and I to be able to travel to Grand Rapids to be with family who traveled from many different states to be together at Christmas time means we have a great love for each other and are so greatly blessed).
• The heartaches and stresses of parenting means I was able to have children. (Even though our children have long left the nest and grandchildren are part of our lives we still can share blessings with them).
• The weariness at day’s end means I have been productive. (To be able to go out to a place of employment or visit a friend or to be able to shop and then return home at day’s end means that we have been able to be a part God’s community).
Look for the beauty in what you take for granted and appreciate those things. Then pray for ways to help others find these blessings in their lives during the coming year.
As your pastor, I wish and pray for a wonderfully blessed year for you, our church parish, our community, and our world.