Devotions from Tri-City ELCA Churches – Pastor Tia Pelz, Nov. 24, 2021

Devotion for November 24, 2021, from Pastor Tia of Christ the King:

Last week my kid had to make a Thankfulness paper pumpkin. He also had to write on it: “I am thankful for my family.” That was the assignment. And I am actually thankful that he chose to follow the instructions. For a lively second grader with a strong mind of his own that’s not always a given. 

He also added a little part and wrote “and for dogs”. Which is where his heart really is. With dogs. Any dogs. “Even poodles”, as he generously exclaimed the other day.  

Thanksgiving is about both: To be thankful for things we take for granted. And to be thankful for what we choose to love.  

In that sense the pandemic has been an ongoing exercise in relearning to be thankful for all the big and little things we have been taking for granted. Like going to school, sharing food with friends, celebrating the holidays with family, traveling. 

All of this has to do with being with other people. With sharing space, and time. Which really is the greatest resource we have in our lives.  

Thanksgiving falls into the last week of our church year. We have just remembered our saints who have left us this year. Reminding us of our own mortality. While knowing that Christ reigns over our life and death. And now, we are asked to give thanks. Just before the new church year will start, with new hopes for new life. Thanksgiving between the end and the beginning of life. That is, a thanksgiving for our lives. For the people in our lives. The ones we were given and the ones we chose. For our families, our friends, our church. For showing up for one another, regularly. For giving our time, our most precious, non-renewable resource.  

I know that at church we often take volunteer time for granted. As if we were entitled to it. We are not. You all don’t have any reason to show up for your church and community other than your love for God that you choose to show as love for your congregation and community. By that I am moved and humbled. For that, I am thankful. And for so much more. Here is a fragmentary list: 

I am thankful for people figuring out Zoom even when it takes 5 minutes to get the camera going and there is an echo coming from nowhere and the unmute button isn’t working and eventually, when it finally worked out, their internet is down. But they try again anyway. 

I am thankful for people joining meetings and worship from wherever they are traveling. 

I am thankful for people cleaning storages, unpacking boxes, washing windows, checking devices and amenities, exchanging locks and cutting down weeds and trees.  

I am thankful for the fourth or fifth or sixth PowerPoint version being sent out on a Sunday morning. 

I am thankful for people who know how to run Zoom and livestream and PowerPoint and do breakout-rooms and share videos and help people mute and unmute. 

I am thankful for the MUTE button on Zoom! 

I am thankful for people sewing masks for everyone who needs them, or chemo bags, or both. 

I am thankful for people who are better at excel sheets than I am, who keep track of tasks and send out friendly reminders. 

I am thankful for people who want to serve God and our neighbors and disagree with me on how to do that. I am also thankful for those who agree with me. 

I am thankful for invitations to people’s homes, to admire their places, their gardens, their pictures, the place they call home.  

I am thankful for homemade jams and pumpkin bread, zucchini bread, muffins, cookies… all the goodies people gift me just because they thought my family and I would enjoy them. WE DO! 

I am thankful for the tears shed in my presence, for the trust and love shown in those vulnerable moments.  

I am thankful for colleagues who are simply the best!!!  

I am thankful for musicians who like trying new things as much as I do. And for administrators who are gracious enough to work with my short-comings.  

I am thankful for prayer requests and text messages and phone calls and theological questions and life questions and spiritual soul searching.  

I am thankful for smart people who also take the time to write their thoughts down and let me read their books.  

I am thankful for my family, really, for everything. For your grace when I miss dinner with you. For your reminders that my church is important. But so are you. For your love and time. 

I am thankful for my siblings in Christ and my Interfaith siblings who share the same love for this world. 

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15) 

Yours in Christ, Pastor Tia! 

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