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Preparing for Thanksgiving Day means different things to different people.

For some it means building floats for a parade.

For some it means helping Santa prepare for his annual introduction.

For some it means standing in line at a soup kitchen for a hot meal.

For some it means getting away for a few days of peace and quiet.

For some it means naming the crippling effects of grief.

For some it means preparing for the whirlwind of family and the aroma of food in the kitchen.

For some it means another workday and a little more football.

For some it means eating too much.

And maybe, for all of us, it will offer a moment to pause and give thanks.

How we tell the story of “The First Thanksgiving” we vary as much as how we choose to

celebrate or not celebrate this national holiday that was formalized by Abraham Lincoln in 1863. In his proclamation, Lincoln called on Americans to ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.” Hoping a day designated to gratefulness would help us heal. Hoping a day to focus on our blessings would help us come together.

How will you choose to live out of your gratefulness this week?

Pastor Jo

November 20, 2023

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Most of us cringe when we hear these words. Someone tries to convince us that if we give them something they will give us something better. Unfortunately, some see God as nothing more than a Dealer in charge of making certain the deals of life always work in our favor.

Ironically, this is not how Jesus lived or taught others to live. Jesus even invited one person to sell everything and give the proceeds to the poor! To sell all that I have means that I must first know “all that I have.” Have you ever thought about having an inventory of every single item you own? We may have a list of our “big ticket” items and heirlooms, but how many of our possessions rarely get a second thought?

When Jesus tells the young man to “sell everything,” we are told the guy sadly walks away. Does he walk away because he doesn’t want to part with these possessions or that he simply had too much to list? Besides, wouldn’t he then be poor, waiting on someone else to sell everything and share it with him? What is Jesus really asking?

Instead of an ultimatum, what if Jesus is inviting him to consider what he values most in life? Think about it. The guy doesn’t ask another question. What encouragement and insight might Jesus have offered if the conversation had continued?

We could spend a great deal of time with this one!

Pastor Jo

November 7, 2023

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I should be in the office more.

I should be out in the community more.

I should pray more.

I should visit more.

I should spend more time studying.

I should leave now or I’m going to be late to my next meeting.

I read a lot about how pastors are experiencing burnout and are struggling with self-acceptance. But even I know that pastors don’t have a monopoly on feeling the pressures of day-to-day life and second guessing every move. We all have the potential to believe the rumblings that tell us we are not enough, we are not doing enough, we should be farther along by now.

When I am overcome with “I should” moments that rumble “I am not enough,” is it possible I am forgetting that I am a part of something greater than myself?

Brené Brown reminds us that belonging starts with self-acceptance. “Your level of belonging, in fact, can never be greater than your level of self-acceptance, because believing that you're enough is what gives you the courage to be authentic, vulnerable and imperfect.”

In Paul’s letter to the Romans we are reminded of this acceptance with others.

May the God of endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude toward each other, similar to Christ Jesus’ attitude. (Romans 15:5 CEB)

I am grateful for a community of faith who reminds me that I am not alone. I am enough. I am loved.

I should not forget that!

Pastor Jo

September 18, 2023

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