Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Giving Thanks

Randy Hildebrant is a missionary, a Church and Community Worker,
who serves in Nebraska, supporting small, rural churches. (Photo by Felipe Castillo)

This Thanksgiving will be very different for us. We will not be able to be with Aletha’s family in Kentucky. This may be the first year since we have been married, which is 17 years. So this year in Kentucky about 40 Everleys will gather at Faith United Methodist church in Bowling Green, Kentucky. This is the first year they have had Thanksgiving at the church.

In years past, we have always gathered at Aletha’s parent’s house to celebrate Thanksgiving. The adults gather at the table in the dining room. The grand and great-grandkids are scattered throughout the house. The menu is turkey and the usual trimmings, but always includes cheese pudding doubled. Thanksgiving and Christmas are the only times we get to indulge in this tasty dish.

As we sit around the table, Baun will always ask each of us to tell what we are thankful for. He always tearfully expresses his thankfulness for God and family. After each of us has shared, he leads us in singing the Doxology. The beginning is my favorite: “Praise God from whom all blessings flow”

Each time we sing that, I think about all the blessings God has given us. We have so much to be thankful for. I would like to ask you to think about these questions.

What does your church do that you are thankful for?
Does it bring tears to your eyes?
Does it make you want to jump up and shout?
Were you once blind, but now you see?
Remember baptisms, confessions of faith (once lost, now found), and special communions?

Former Global Ministries staff, Brenda Connelly, admires quilt
with missionary Randy Hidebrant. (Photo by Rachael Barnett)
I challenge you as you have church Thanksgiving dinner to let it be more than the motions that we just go through, but let it be an experience that brings us closer to God.

I would like to share a story with you. Some 75 people gathered at a church on Wednesday night to share a Thanksgiving meal with their families. There was no charge for the meal. They decided to take meals to two older ladies in the neighborhood. When they called to tell them they were bringing them meals, the ladies could not believe they were not going to have to pay for the meal. They asked why anyone would just bring a meal and not ask for money. They were told that the church was having a Thanksgiving meal and wanted to include them. The meal was an opportunity for the people to invite unchurched friends to come to their church.

You never know who will show up when given an invitation. You might be surprised. They were.

Read Randy Hildebrant's bio and learn more about the missionaries who serve as Church and Community Workers.

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