We have trouble decorating for Thanksgiving in my house. Being UGA fans, we don’t really have a lot of orange things or approve of it as a central color (besides pumpkins, of course). We decorate for Halloween, and then, like department stores, we usually go straight into pulling all the Christmas stuff out. This year, we wanted to at least make an attempt at Thanksgiving decorations, so Meredith did something that has been really great. She used a stamp press, and cut out hundreds of paper leaves in red, yellow, and orange. Each night in November, we sit at the dining room table, take a leaf, and write down something we are thankful for, and then we tape it to the kitchen window making it our Thanksgiving display. (I still refused to write on an orange leaf until after the Tennessee game). I have really loved it, and on difficult days, it has been tremendously helpful to re-center ourselves in gratitude.
I know the holiday of Thanksgiving has a checkered history, but I know from experience that centering ourselves in gratitude is always a great posture for prayer. I am so thankful to be the pastor of Embry Hills UMC. Just in my first year and a half, we have faced challenges, and continue to live with challenges from recent history, but I continue to thank God that I am the pastor here. I am thankful for our lay leadership, who through recent transitions, both global and local, have stuck in there with us, and have provided great guidance and comfort leading us out of the pandemic and restarting and reimagining what Embry Hills UMC is to become. And I am thankful for the new leadership coming in, that they are willing to commit themselves and help us move into the future. I am thankful for the vision we have held this year, of changing our leadership structure so we can be more communicative and nimbler in our ministries, and actively open our doors to people, as our liturgy says, of all ages, nations, races, identities…and the list goes on. I am thankful for the church staff, who put up with my shortcomings, are creative and faithful stewards of the trust given to them, and show the love of God to all people who come to our doors.
Most importantly, I am thankful to God, and I am thankful for God’s call. In that call, it was never promised that it would be easy. To quote the film Princess Bride, “anyone telling you differently is selling you something.” But I am still grateful to be on this faith journey with all of you, as we seek to share God’s love with the world.
This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, there are still a lot of empty leaves, but it makes for a beautiful display.