“The Dead Sea in the Middle East receives fresh water, but it has no outlet, so it doesn't pass the water out. It receives beautiful water from the rivers, and the water goes dank. I mean, it just goes bad. And that's why it is the Dead Sea. It receives and does not give. In the end generosity is the best way of becoming more, more, and more joyful.”
(Desmond Tutu, The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World)
As we move into another season of thanks- and gift- giving, we are reminded of the importance of practicing gratitude. Gratitude is, indeed, something we need to practice, a habit that we can cultivate. The more we do it, the more naturally it flows as part of our daily lives. Co-Moderator Kenya Bohn wrote beautifully about the practice of gratitude in her column this month. Thank you, Kenya!
Gratitude is an important part of our spiritual lives. From the Psalms to Paul’s letters, the Bible is full of expressions of gratitude for God’s gifts. As people of faith, our thankfulness for all we have received becomes the foundation of our stewardship and our giving. We give generously out of genuine gratitude for the generosity God has shown us. In many churches, including ours, the season of Thanksgiving is also the season of Stewardship. Already, many of you have returned your pledge cards indicating your plans to give to the ministries of POVUCC in 2022. Thank you! We will consecrate our pledges on November 21, which is the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Assuming the COVID case numbers continue to decline, we will worship together in our sanctuary for the first time in 623 days. I become emotional just imagining the opportunity to stand in our pulpit, to hear our choir, and to look out on your faces once again. My heart will be full of gratitude, to be sure.
And yet, as grateful as I will be for that day, I am equally grateful for all the days in between, and for the many other ways we have worshiped together during the pandemic: our “Worship from Home” resources early in the pandemic, with our Zoom fellowship time to check in with each other; our outdoor Vespers services on The Point; our transition to full worship services on Zoom last Advent; our hybrid worship that began in May as we gathered in Fellowship Hall and online. None of those opportunities could have happened without the dedicated staff and volunteers who adapted and innovated, making things we had never imagined possible a reality. Nor could they have happened without all of you, who continued to support us with your prayers, your love, and your care. Throughout the last year and a half, POVUCC has continued to demonstrate your deep faith in many ways, including your incredibly generous giving to our church’s ministries.
I cannot adequately express how much it means to receive your unwavering support through these difficult times. Were I to start a Thanksgiving Jar as Kenya suggests, it would be filled with my heartfelt thanks for each and every one of you. This year, more than ever, I give thanks for you, POVUCC. You continue to live our vision to “ignite hearts everywhere with God’s love.”
Pastor Mary Sue