A time to give thanks
By Rev. Jordan B. Davis (M.Div.‘14)
This past Sunday, I had a conversation with excited elementary aged children about what makes a house a home just before our congregation dedicated their pledges in our stewardship campaign, “Let Us Build A House.”
Later that afternoon, I gathered with a family who recently lost their loved one way too soon and although I did not know him, I mourned with them as I read the words of the Psalmist and prayed the Lord’s Prayer.
Only moments after settling back at my desk to prepare for youth group, I read of the shooting in Texas and my heart ached as I prayed for the community and wondered what I could do.
Sunday evening, my high school youth gathered for Bible Study and discussed the scriptural phrase “Here I Am” and what it means when we respond to God in the same way as Moses, Samuel, and Mary. We looked at the world where we are, who we are as individuals, and whose we are in relation to God. At the close of the study, I listened to these high schoolers name problems and heartaches that they see in this world and describe how they will use their talents and passions to respond to them. They were challenged to consider what this response says about their relationship with God and who they believe God to be; to answer the question of whose they are, who they are telling “Here I am.”
On Monday, I lay in bed looking out the window at the changing trees and reflected on the day before. It was full of beauty and heartache, excitement and dread. There were moments when I wondered how anyone could question if there is a God, and there were moments that I wondered where God was. In the end, my youth showed me exactly where God is – in each one of them, and in all of us as we try to cry out “Here I am!” with Moses, Samuel, and Mary.
As the holiday season ramps up, a tradition for many is beginning once again. Facebook is being flooded with individuals listing what they are grateful for. In a world that seems so broken, these brief moments of prayer bring a light that is so desperately needed. These prayers of thanksgiving help me to personally find a focus and be able to say “Here I am.”
On Sunday I was painfully reminded that in this season of family gatherings and joyful songs, there are also those who will sit alone singing songs of lament. I pray that as we each find ourselves at different points in this journey, we will continue to find those brief moments of thanksgiving and carry them forward both with and for one another into the dark winter nights and bright spring mornings.
As I talked with those children on the steps of our sanctuary on Sunday, I told them that the best way to thank God for all we have been given is to help to make our house a home for everyone. We talked about needing love, forgiveness, grace, and family to make this transition. It is through this love and grace shared with those around us that we are able to respond to God, saying “Here I am.”
As the days get shorter and nights get longer, as we watch the news and wonder what we can do – let us join the voices on Facebook as we give thanks. Let us join the voices of those who have gone before us as we tell God, “Here I am” and live with one another in a way that share this thanksgiving and praise, in a way that share God’s love and grace.
How are you responding with “Here I am” in your own life and ministry?
How do you encourage your congregation to join you in this thanksgiving to God?