Pastor Paul’s Thanksgiving Message

One of my favorite things that we do when it’s our turn to bring worship to Williamsburg and Sunshine Terrace is sing. Cathy Bullock will often come with the blessing of her fine piano playing. Sometimes Bess Dennison will add the beauty of her flute. As a last resort, I have banged on my guitar when needed. No matter what the instrumentation, we enjoy singing a lot of the old time tunes. What a friend we have in Jesus, How Great Thou Art, and In the Garden are among the favorites.

As I thought about this month’s message, another one of the favorites came to mind, Count Your Blessings. Can you hear the tune? Do you know the words?

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.

Nice…but what do you do when you just don’t feel like counting? What do you do when you look around you and lift up your fingers to number off the blessings, and all you can count are challenges? You know, the song just loses something when you sing Count your troubles, name them one by one…

Sometimes it’s tough to feel very thankful. Sometimes the darkness in our lives just creeps up on us and hides our blessings from our eyes. It happens. We are human. The simple realities of current events and circumstances, of sickness, of relationships that are less than perfect, of our mortality are powerful, and often overpowering.
Fortunately, for those of us in faith, feeling the weight of the world and being stuck in darkness is not the end of the story. If we delve further into the hymn, we can gather in a little more of its wisdom.

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
when you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
count your many blessings, name them one by one
and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

The hymn clues us into a little bit of faith wisdom: thanksgiving isn’t based on how we feel. It isn’t something we do just when things are going well (or once a year to go along with our pumpkin pie). Thanksgiving, the kind we celebrate in faith, is a way of life. We practice it when things are easier, and cling to it when things are rough. Thanksgiving isn’t for the good times; it brings us through challenging times. It places our feet on the solid ground of God’s love, God’s providence, and upon the certain hope that even as we speak God is working to free us, to lift us up, and lead us forward.
Try it. Give thanks. Make it a habit whatever the circumstance. If you find yourself in darkness, let God know it all. Let God really know (God can take it), and then give thanks.

If you are not able to give thanks, grab a brother or sister in faith, and have them give thanks for you (and with you). Let them point out a blessing or two you couldn’t see before. Let their faith carry yours for a bit. It works. Give thanks, and you will be lifted up. As the hymn proclaims:

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

Happy Thanksgiving. Paul

This entry was posted in Sermons. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
  • November COVID Update

    If you are reading this before Sunday November 1st, I hope you take the time on Sunday morning to join us for communion in the parking lot at FPC.  It’s communion in the drive-through style, something the first Christians could never have envisioned.  It is nonetheless a faithful celebration of the meal that Jesus first initiated with his disciples.  Pastor Meg and I will be in the parking lot from 11 to 11:30 a.m. and we’ll have music to go along with the meal and hopefully lift your spirits. Stop by to hear the music, and for a blessing along with the communion meal.

    One of the most exciting things for me in recent weeks was our congregational meeting that we held via the online service Zoom.  It was so heart-warming to see that many of you in attendance.  Counting the couples on various screens, I think there were around 50 of you in attendance.  Thank you for your participation.

    At the meeting we elected new elders and deacons for the Class of 2023.  Please join me in expressing our thanks to elders Lovet Fokunang, Dee Logterman, Scott Hofmann, and Dawn Drost, and deacons Terry Brennand, Darcie Bessinger, and Marcia Baker.  We also elected Sheryl Bessinger to fill a partial term as an elder in the Class of 2021.  I’m thankful that they’ve accepted God’s call upon their lives to serve God by serving the people of our community.  May we lift them up in prayer (along with our other deacons & elders) as they help to care for and lead our congregation in challenging times.

    As you might imagine if you’re watching the news, Session unanimously voted to continue with YouTube worship for the month of November.  We continue to get around one hundred views each week, and I am very thankful for your participation in worship on YouTube.  It’s wonderful to have Pastor Meg back from maternity leave.  She is already busy planning Christian Education events and leading youth ministries.

    We will not host a church Thanksgiving dinner for obvious reasons, but we are spending this month getting ready for some exciting things in Advent.  We will have special music throughout our Advent worship services, there will be Advent activities for families, there is a special online bell choir concert in the works, and we’re hoping for an in-person outdoor Christmas Eve service.  Yes, it will be chilly, but we live in northern Utah and I know you people are hardy!  This service will be 30 minutes long, so you don’t get too cold.  We’ll have wonderful organ and bell music and Christmas hymns to sing, along with gospel readings of the birth of Jesus.  I think it’s going to be a wonderful way to celebrate the birth of the Christ-child.

    May the grace and peace of our Lord be with you all.

    —Pastor Derek

  • Pages