Every day, I said, “How are you?” And every day, he answered, “Grateful.” He was an elderly African American man who parked cars for a living at a garage I used in Chicago. His wife had died some years before, and parking cars gave him something to do and some (very) modest income. His life had not been easy, and he didn’t have much as the world measures these things. But every day, he said, “I’m grateful.”
As Reformed Christians, we stress the “sovereignty” of God. We mean by this that God is first and everything else is second. God is the Source of everything that is. But God is more than an explanation of our origins. God has a specific character. First, in the story of God’s long relationship with Israel, and then in the story of Jesus, we see that God is the One whose steadfast love endures forever, and that nothing in life or in death will ever be able to separate us from God’s love. The only thing that really matters in life – namely, God’s healing and redeeming and life-giving love – is already ours. How can we not be grateful!
November is the season for giving thanks. We begin on November 1 by celebrating the saints. We give thanks to God for those who have gone before us in life and especially in faith. We remember loved ones who have died, and we call to mind those whom we may not know personally but who have laid the foundations for our faith. The “communion of the saints” isn’t just about remembering people from the past. It is about being “in communion” with them here and now through the love of God in which all of us – living and dead – abide.
November is also the season in which we express our gratitude to God by means of our commitment to support God’s work through the mission and ministry of Highland. Our pledges for financial support in 2016 will ensure that we will be able to do as a church what we believe God is calling us to do. But the primary reason we give is that it is one concrete way to express our joy and thanksgiving for all we have received.
Finally, November is the month of our national day of Thanksgiving. Even though it is now interrupted by a plethora of shopping opportunities, we still experience this as almost an island of peace in a fast-paced world. It is a day to rest and renew and reflect and rejoice with family and friends. For Christians, it is a day to turn once more to the God of steadfast love and make our prayer: “For all that has been, Thanks. For all that will be, Yes.”
Cynthia M. Campbell, Pastor