Christian reflections

Come, Ye Thankful People * 10 Minute Devotional

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

The first church I pastored met in a white chapel-style building with a steeple, a bell, gorgeous wooden pews, and bright red carpets.

This congregation, like all congregations, had a few heart songs. Songs that would get feet tapping or tears rolling or smiles all around. The Navy hymn was one. “Let Us Break Bread Together on Our Knees” another.

Yet the one that always comes to mind when I think of that church is this:

Thank You, Lord.

It’s a Don Moen song from the early 90s, and we’d sing it to a worship DVD since it was more jazzy-guitar than organ or piano, and we didn’t have anyone who played that.

Its chorus is a simple one:

With a grateful heart
With a song of praise
With an outstreched arm
I will bless Your name
Thank You Lord
I just wanna thank You Lord
Thank You Lord
I just wanna thank You Lord
Thank You Lord

They loved this song. I quickly grew to love it, too.

The thing was, they meant it. They were a profoundly grateful bunch. Grateful for the good weather and breaks in the bad. Grateful for the turning of the seasons, the blooms and the harvests. Grateful for the opportunity to share holidays with family and friends.

Grateful for the chance to open their doors to a brand-new pastor, fresh out of seminary.

My first congregation taught me a great deal about being thankful. When I arrived they’d been through several pastors in just a handful of years. They’d suffered tragedy, losing many beloved members, both old and young, to death. They’d seen harsh winters and blazing summers and an economic collapse.

Through it all, only one thing had remained constant.

“How are you so resilient?” I asked a member of the search committee during my interview.

“Well,” she said, “we just are the church, and we aren’t going to stop being the church, no matter what life throws at us.”

In my years as their pastor, they never did. In the years since, they still haven’t.

I will always be grateful for my time in that church. They gave me my start; they were patient with me as I learned; they welcomed me with open arms and lots of fresh produce (hey, it was farm country!).

Above all, they helped me understand the love of God more deeply. The God who they would always stick with because he had stuck with them through thick and thin, good harvests and bad, baptisms and weddings and funerals, cancer diagnoses and flooded basements and neighborhood tiffs.

That congregation sought to live out Paul’s words in Colossians 3:15:

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

They weren’t perfect, of course. No congregation is. (No pastor is either, for that matter!) But when harvest time comes around and songs of Thanksgiving are in the air, I always remember that beautiful country church with great fondness.

For all you’ve given to me. For all the blessings that I cannot see, thank you, Lord.


Who or what in your past are you most thankful for today?

How can you express that gratitude?

 

2 thoughts on “Come, Ye Thankful People * 10 Minute Devotional

    1. I was so thankful for that word of wisdom you gave me as I started! I still think of it in my current pastorate, too. Thank you for paving the way for me – the congregation still spoke of you with great fondness and warmth, even all those years later.

      Like

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