We are now nearing the end of the summer months and are entering the 2023-24 program year! It has been a great summer. However, a lot has happened this summer both within our congregations and throughout the world. I have had multiple congregation members come up to me and say that they have felt like this summer has been busier than usual. In conversation, most have agreed that this is partially due to more events coming back from before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, I believe something more is going on. I believe that the Holy Spirit has been working through us within our congregations. At Faith Lutheran, we have been trying new things. We have been busy trying to get out into the community. We participated in Lansdale’s First Friday, we had a joint outdoor worship service with Grace Lutheran in Hatfield, and we attempted to establish new ministries. At Jerusalem Lutheran, the congregation voted on me to become their new permanent pastor. Jerusalem also put on a wonderful VBS program and continues to see God’s presence in their outreach ministries. These are just a few examples of what our congregations have accomplished through the works of God’s Spirit! God has indeed been working through us, and God has provided for us. There is much for us to be thankful for. Thus, this programming year, I am planning on focusing on the mindset of gratitude. Throughout the next year, in my preaching and teaching, we will discuss what gratitude is and how one lives a life of gratitude.
So, what is gratitude? The word “gratitude” has a number of different meanings, depending on the context. However, a practical clinical definition from the National Library of Medicine states that “gratitude is the appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to oneself; it is a general state of thankfulness and/or gratefulness.” However, from the Christian perspective, “Gratitude is the Christian response to recognizing that all good things that happen in our lives are gifts from God, a reminder of how much God loves us and wants us to be signs of God’s love in the world.” Thus, one could say that the first step of getting into the mindset of gratitude is by giving thanks for the love that God has shown and continues to show to us. I think this is a good practice for us as we continue on throughout the year. Throughout the Bible, God encourages us to be thankful:
- “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (1 Chron. 16:34)
- “I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Cor. 1:4)
- “Give thanks always…” (Eph. 5:20)
- I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. (Psalm 9:1)
- Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thess. 5: 16-18)
So, let's start this program year with gratitude, with thankfulness and gratefulness. I want to thank God for this first year of ordained ministry. I also thank God for both my congregations, for Faith Lutheran and Jerusalem Lutheran. I especially want to thank God for all the new people I have met within these congregations. I thank you God for leading and guiding both these congregations into new beginnings. I also thank God for all my friends and family, especially for Eileen and for Luca. Finally, I thank you God for your love. Your love that overflows upon us and gives us life. So, what are you thankful for? Reflect on this and let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
Peace and Blessings, Pastor Ethan Doan