When it comes to our thanksgiving, most of us do so retrospectively. We look back at what has taken place and we feel a rush of gratitude not only for what came our way, but also for what we were able to avoid. As the saying goes, “Some of the prayers that are answered best are those that are never answered.” At the time we may have thought we knew what was in our best interest, but in reality we had no idea what we were asking and we are blessed that what we hoped for never materialized. It might be a good source of spiritual discipline for you to make that kind of list as you “count your many blessings!”
But there is another form of thanksgiving, an arguably more faithful form. It’s the gratitude that looks with anticipation over what we believe God will do for us, in us, and through us in the days ahead. It’s a hopeful thanksgiving, one that believes that of all the good that has come our way, that which is even better is yet to come!
This Sunday in our annual Thanksgiving worship, we’ll be doing a bit of both. Certainly, we’ll be looking back and expressing our gratitude to God for the grace gifts that came our way this past year. But we will also culminate the “Beyond” phase of our “All Things Are Possible” campaign by enthusiastically claiming the good future God has for us to know.
I want to make sure you know what to expect in worship this Sunday. Many of you have already made a commitment to the campaign. Let me be quick to say thanks for the manner in which your expression launched our effort in a major way. Your pledges represent the largest commitment ever made toward such a project by our church membership in our 75 year history.That’s something to be grateful for!
Others of you have not yet had the opportunity to make your commitment. Perhaps you’ve been waiting to see if this campaign has a chance of becoming anything. (It does.) Maybe you’ve been praying over the “beyond” gift you can make. It could be that you’ve been rearranging your future plans so that you can do something in the near term that will help us realize our vision for the far term. Regardless, this Sunday we will invite you to turn in your “Beyond” pledge card in the offering plate when it is passed during that time in the service.We will collect all the cards, tally the pledges, and report the total commitment toward the end of the year, after all the pledge cards have been registered. In the event that you do not yet know what you might be able to do, we will be receiving pledges for the “Beyond” phase of the “All Things Are Possible” campaign through the end of the year.
For all of us in attendance we will have the chance to symbolize our commitment to God’s future for our church in a way that will be incorporated into the new design for years to come. You will remember that when we began this “Beyond” phase on the first Sunday of the month, we gave everyone present a tile, which was to serve as a prayer prompt for the campaign effort. This coming Sunday, we will invite everyone to come forward during the service to place their tiles in a container as an act of celebration for how God has been at work in our midst and as an act of dedication in seeing this project to completion. These tiles will then be used in a mosaic that will be displayed in some prominent part of the church as a lasting reminder of our congregation’s faithful commitment in this season of our church’s life.
There is no question in my mind that this day will mark a milestone at Mountain Brook Baptist Church, one that signals our commitment to live into our church’s mission of loving God and living with grace and generosity. Obviously, we want as many as possible to be present and to participate in this special service on Sunday. So, if you didn’t receive a tile earlier in the month or if you can’t locate yours, know that we will have plenty available for everyone in attendance. Then, after the service, we’ll go down to the Christian Life Center to enjoy our annual Churchwide Thanksgiving Luncheon. Our Cooks on a Mission group will provide the turkey and dressing, sweet potato soufflé, cheesy apple casserole, green beans, and rolls. We’ll ask you to bring another side dish, salad, or dessert to share.
Thanks to each of you for what has been not just a wonderful campaign, but a wonderful year. I’m so blessed to be a part of a church like ours at this particular time in its history. I trust you feel the same way. More importantly, I’m so blessed to be a part of a congregation that has been so richly blessed by God and one in which His future for our fellowship unquestionably holds even more. I can hardly wait to see what that future will be!
“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15)