November is often seen as a month in which to be grateful. We have soaked up the sunshine of summer and feasted on the harvest of fall. We find ourselves preparing for the American holiday of Thanksgiving and, if you are in church ministry, preparing for the coming of Advent and Christmas. We are surrounded by the joys of life even in hardship. There is always something or someone to be grateful for in our life.
As Congregationalists, we remember and are grateful for the courage of our forefathers and mothers who crossed an ocean to escape religious persecution. For us, Thanksgiving is more than just a day off from work to be with family. We stand on the shoulders of their faith and perseverance as we remain in covenant with each other to the glory of God. We will celebrate Heritage Sunday on November 18 th and will, once again, recall those who have given us the faith we live today.
For me, November also brings a time to reflect on and to again be grateful for God’s call on my life as a minister. Although I have been in ministry most of my adult life, this month I will celebrate my anniversary of ordination. It is still a humble reminder of all God has been in my life, and the faith people place in me when they call me to fill their pulpit and walk with them as they follow the call of God on their life.
On November 4th, we formally joined in covenant together at my Installation as Senior Minister. I am slowly being able to look out and see familiar faces and know in my heart some of the life-stories attached to those faces. It remains to be seen what we will share together through the years, but I know for certain that God will be present amidst us and within us all. Your gracious welcome has warmed my heart and made me grateful for this church community.
For me, gratitude for my faith in God stands atop all the other things I am grateful for in my life. Faith has been the lens in which I have seen the world and my sisters and brothers. It has brought me the challenge to love my neighbor, my enemy, and myself. It has been what I have clung to in moments of deep pain and proclaimed in moments of great joy. The older I become, the more deeply do I understand that this is pure grace and gift. I would not be the same person without it and pray that I am a better person because of it.
I hope you take the time this month, before the hustle, bustle and (sadly) chaos of Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas begin, and slow down a moment (or three). Just take in all that God has done and been to you in your life and say, “thank-you.” Christian mystic, Meister Eckhart, is quoted as writing; “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”
Be safe in these colder months and check in on those for whom the cold and snow are a hardship. And, as always, let us keep each other in prayer. The Spirit unites us and will give us all we truly need.
God’s Blessings and Peace
Rev. Carrie Orlando