This Thanksgiving week, my heart is filled with gratitude for you, dear church, and for the abundant ways you have been the church for each other, for me, and for our community this year.

To those of you who have joined our church this year, uniting your lives with ours and calling us to who God dreams us to be — I say thank you for entrusting us with your spiritual care and for bringing your full, honest, imperfect, beloved selves to the community God is creating here.

To those of you who have gathered week in and week out to open the scriptures together — some before dawn, others at lunch; some at night, others on Sunday mornings — I say thank you for the ways in which you are holding firmly to your own convictions while stretching for the wisdom that expands with deeper engagement with God, with God’s story of Love, and with each other.

To those of you who have let your ministers and fellow members care for you in seasons of joy and sorrow, seasons of life and loss; those who have received us in your hospital rooms and your new homes, at the deathbed of a beloved and by the crib of a newborn, when trees fall and storms rage, when you are overwhelmed, scared, anxious, and unsure of what lies ahead, when you just  haven’t been sure what you believe and when all you can believe is that God is God — I say thank you for ushering us into greater compassion and kindness, revealing to us the God in Jesus who says, “come unto me, you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

To those of you who have given to God to create A Boundless Home here at First Baptist Church — I say thank you for doing so, for letting go of your sacrificial, faithful, creative, and meaningful resources, trusting that God will use our shared gifts to God’s glory ‘for such a time as this.’

To those of you who have asked questions of the capital campaign or the building project, wondered about the work of ministry in this day and age, doubted what you heard in the pulpit and insisted on discussing it further, and prodded us all to look past all the need within our church to the need of our neighbors and community — I say thank you for your persistence in making us better, more loving, more faithful, more wise.

To those of you who continue living in the unforced rhythms of grace; simply and freely participating week in and week out in our shared fellowship; cultivating beloved community because you love God, love each other, and love the world; calling out injustice where you see it and reaching towards God’s dream for our world with your lives and your public voice; bearing witness to each other the fruit of God’s Spirit at work within you (namely love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) — I say thank you for showing up, standing up, and lifting us all up simply by being who you are!

Gratitude abounds, for it originates in the Giver who gifts abundantly and extravagantly. I have seen such sacred, ordinary gifts in you, beloved community, and for that, I am so very grateful!

Together in the work of Love,
Pastor Emily

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