I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. (Philippians 1:3-5, NRSV)
The Thanksgiving holiday is two days from now. My celebration—and perhaps yours, too—will be very different from what I have experienced in past years or wished for this year. It has been very important for me to hold my disappointment in check by remembering all the blessings that are still mine for which I continually give thanks to God. I could share a long list, but I decided to focus on one: the people and ministries of Naples United Church of Christ.
I was a member before I joined the clergy team so I had already chosen this as my church home. My appreciation for who we are and what we are becoming together has only grown over the past 4 years. I am thankful for the ways that we are a traditional church, with worship liturgy, prayer, and music that feed my soul because they have been part of my faith life since childhood. I am equally grateful that we are progressive people seeking to grow personally and spiritually, using the minds and hearts that God has given us to increase our understanding of who God is and who God wants us to become. I am convinced that, yes, God is still speaking.
I give thanks that our generosity and dedication to mission have empowered us to make a tremendous difference in the lives of people near and far, from Immokalee to Guatemala and beyond. I rejoice to see that our approach to making a difference in the world includes finding new ways of working for justice and peace, consistent with our longstanding commitment to caring for God’s creation. I am filled with hope and gratitude as our ministry to children grows and we begin to live into becoming truly intergenerational.
I am grateful for each person I have come to know, and for all those I will get to know, members and friends alike. It is a gift to hear your stories and experience your gifts and share in the work of fulfilling God’s call to us as individuals and as a community of faith. I thank God for you.
What about NUCC is most meaningful to you? How are you—or would you like to be—a part of our shared ministry? Please pray with me that we will grow in our faith, in our relationships, one with another, and in our ability to envision and fulfill God’s call upon us. Thanks be to God. On Thanksgiving Day and every day.
Naples United Church of Christ
God who has brought us together: Be with us now in these challenging times. Sustain us with your strength. Comfort us with your peace. Guide us with your wisdom. Fill us with your love. Bless our ministries today and always. Amen.