As we gathered last week as the Presbytery of Philadelphia at Wallingford, I was struck by the spirit of the gathering. There was a ‘vibe’ in the air that accompanied the mood throughout our pre-presbytery conversations, business meeting, worship and celebration dinner. I could not help but consider how blessed we are to be part of this diverse expression of the body of Christ – a body of Christ that, as I said Tuesday, has demonstrated itself to be courageous, creative, counter-cynical and covenantal. How blessed am I to have been invited to join you five years ago; to come alongside you, to shepherd this presbytery; to partner with gifted men and women who believe God is making straight a way before us – so that together we might courageously and creatively consider ways to reflect the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ for a time such as this. It is a time when it is easy to be overwhelmed by despair and hopelessness. As such, it is also a time that makes it imperative to practice the discipline of gratitude – of pausing to name God’s blessings in our midst. It is these blessings that will serve to fuel our hearts, that will serve to lift us up from our knees when we pray, that will inspire us with the Holy Spirit – so together we might be lights in the darkness.
As we approach Thanksgiving and this season of gratitude and hopes, I pause to say how thankful I am for the privilege of being a part of “The Story of Us.” Thank you for the kind words spoken last week; for the vote of confidence as we embark on another five years; for the spirit of grace that allows me to be imperfect without fear; for the covenantal embrace that sustains my heart during the valleys and the mountains. Above all, thank you for being faithful ambassadors of Jesus Christ. My heart is filled with gratitude – for you!
So as you gather around table this week and in the weeks to come, I invite you to name those people and things that fill your heart with gratitude. Boldly give thanks for them!
On behalf of the entire staff of the Presbytery of Philadelphia – Kevin, Greg, Steve, Deb, Betsi, Cassie, Andrea, Luis, Ann, Dolores and Marilyn – we wish for you a Blessed Thanksgiving.