Pastor Letter from Lauri
“I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ—Philippians 1:3-6
The Apostle Paul writes these words to the church members of Philippi while he was in prison for sharing the Gospel in Rome. Prisoners at that time would starve to death if they didn’t have supporters outside the prison walls to feed them and care for their needs. The church in Philippi sent money to help care for Paul in prison and they also sent a member of the congregation to care for his needs. Paul was deeply grateful and he rejoiced not in the money and the help (because he trusted that no matter what God would provide for him) but rather in the way that God was at work in them calling them to serve and care where their hands were needed.
This month we celebrate Thanksgiving and it strikes me that in many ways the story of the 1st Thanksgiving mirrors the story of Paul and the Philippians. The Pilgrims who landed in the colonies hoping to worship freely, were met with bitter cold and near starvation. Then as the spring sunshine arose, the Native Americans came and shared their gifts and knowledge. They shared their skills of agriculture and their knowledge of the land, so that the following winter there was food laid aside and homes to keep the colonists warm. The Native Americans and the colonists celebrated harvest, but more importantly they celebrated the gift of love and the friendship of neighbors who cared for each other. God was at work in hands and hearts that saw the needs of neighbors and showed up to walk beside, support, and encourage. We are so very grateful! We know that the “rest of the story” teaches us that any time neighbors forget how to love and care for each other, we leave scars that can take generations to heal.
Still each year as harvest concludes and the winter wind begins we turn to scripture and we remember to give thanks to the Lord for the blessings that God richly provides. We give thanks for all the ways God calls us to use our gifts to care for each other and for all the ways that God provides through the hands he sends to care. Perhaps as we do, we remember the way God sent his Son to join us in our brokenness and sin and leads us through it to new and eternal life. This is the gift of love that always heals and it is the love Christ calls us to share with our neighbors.
Happy Thanksgiving! As you settle in for a meal with family and friends, take time to give thanks for those around you and for the whole community that God has provided for you. Remember those you are struggling to love, those you are struggling to forgive. Thanksgiving is a great day to lay aside the struggles and remember how to be neighbors once again! God is at work in this process and we are thankful!
With Love in Christ,