"Thank You, God!"

Earlier today, the Natchez Area Ministerial Alliance hosted its annual Community Thanksgiving service. Gathered around brown-bag lunches at Trinity Episcopal Church's Parish Hall, Christians from across denominations fellowshipped and worshipped. The lunch hour abounded with joy as we gave thanks together.

I looked around the room at one point today and realized that among all the people there was an obvious absence. This was my fifth Community Thanksgiving service to attend in Natchez, but it was the first that my colleague, Pastor Steve Pearson, did not attend. Steve passed away in August after a long battle with cancer. Steve was a well-loved member of the community, and he has been the subject of past postings on this blog. Today, a vivid memory returned to me of the Community Thanksgiving service in 2009.

At this particular service, Steve had been asked to lead the pledges of allegiance to the American flag and the Christian flag. The words to each pledge were projected onto a screen in front of the congregation. Steve looked at the screen and read along with confidence. After the service, Steve said to me, "When I turned to face the Christian flag, I realized that I had no idea what the words to the pledge were! Then, all of a sudden, the words were up there on the screen. And I thought, 'Thank you, God!'" Steve put his hands up in the air, and we laughed together.

As we approach Thanksgiving Day, I hold that image of Bro. Steve in my mind: his arms raised, his face consumed by laughter, and his mouth uttering the simplest praise for an answer to an unspoken prayer. Is this not what Thanksgiving is? Gratitude coupled with joy?

This Thanksgiving, may we take the time to pause, lift our hands, and simply say, "Thank you, God." Joy will follow, and you might find yourself sharing a good laugh with God.

grace, peace, joy, and all good stuff to each of you--
Pastor Darian