This Thursday is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. I look forward to time with family, turkey and dressing (and all the other good stuff), and football. The day also causes me to think about some of the things for which I am thankful.
I am thankful for...
A slow, soaking rain when the earth is dry.
The start of the NCAA college basketball season.
Christmas visit with grandchildren.
The beautiful colors of fall.
Laity who serve Christ faithfully through the church.
The North Georgia Conference Board of Ordained Ministry.
The "North Georgia Cabinet family" and the United Methodist Center staff that I work with.
Braves' Craig Kimbrel being selected as the National League Rookie of the Year.
The call of God upon my life.
The privilege of growing older (and hopefully wiser).
God's love that sent His Son, Jesus, to redeem us.
Alex Trebeck and Jeopardy.
Video visits through Skype with my grandchildren (and their parents) in Japan.
Opportunities to preach and teach.
People who are wise enough to say "I don't know" when they don't have the answer and smart enough to ask, "What do you think?"
Medical advances and personnel that save lives.
Opportunities to travel and experience God's people and the good earth.
Not having to shop on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving).
The hymns of the Church.
Worship services, regardless of worship style, that are well planned.
The fellowship of the saints through the United Methodist Connection.
Kind words and deeds.
Coffee in the morning.
The wisdom and vision of my peers.
Challenges that stretch me in my thinking and doing.
Forgiveness from God, always available, for all my sins.
A wonderful woman who loves me and has been my wife for almost 43 years.
A good story--and a good story teller.
Local church congregations that are for each other and serve their community/world.
Young clergy who hold the future of the church in capable hands and tender hearts.
The love of my three children and my two absolutely fabulous grandchildren.
The privilege of being a United Methodist minister.
A reliable automobile.
People with a good sense of humor.
Parents who claim their role of teaching their children to love God and love people.
Email (but not all the spam).
Music of (almost) all types.
My brothers and sisters in the faith--lay and clergy--who model the Christian lifestyle.
Honest politicians (and yes there are some).
The ability to still take the stairs 2 or 3 at a time.
The daily newspaper comics.
A device (smart phone) that does just about everything but cook my breakfast--and it will probably be able to do that before long.
People who can disagree without being disagreeable.
Folks who understand that it is always too early to quit.
Counselors, therapists, and other mental health professionals.
Freedoms that are afforded us in this great country.
The presence of God with me in good times and not-so-good times.
The Apostle Paul instructs us: "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." (I Thessalonians 5:18). I don't believe that everything that happens to us is not God's will, but I think that God wants us to have an attitude of gratitude regardless of our circumstances.
In the words of the liturgy for Holy Communion, "It is right and a good and joyful thing always and everywhere to give thanks to (our) Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth."
[Taken with permission from "Monday Morning in North Georgia," Nov. 21, 2011. North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church.]