I spent Tuesday afternoon and evening and Wednesday morning in Leesburg this week at the Life Enrichment Center, participating an event hosted by Bishop Carter.
This time was especially poignant for me. The conference has reinstated a fellowship gathering for pastors which has been suspended for many years. In the first few years it was called School of Ministry; now it is simply called Clergy Gathering. This year clergy from all across the conference gathered together in five different worship experiences to share our stories and hear the ways that God is moving through our lives. In one session called Heroes, we listened to one of our younger clergy interview one of our retired pastors, who shared his story and advice for sustaining ministry over the long haul. At the close of that session, we wrote with sharpies on pieces of glass, the names of people in our own lives who had served as heroes in our faith. These were collected in baskets and prayed over as an offering. In the final worship experience, the communion table was decorated with those pieces of glass and the names of the all the heroes shining out at us.
That experience got me to think about two points of connection with this month in November. The first is the religious holiday of All Saints Day that we celebrated on the first Sunday in November; reading the names aloud of all the folks at Druid Hills who had died since the same time last year. And then the second is the national holiday of Thanksgiving that is quickly approaching us next week.
When we gather around the table of Thanksgiving next week and reflect on all of the things that we are thankful for, some of those things should be the personal heroes of the faith who have lived their lives as examples for us - those who are responsible for us coming to believe in Jesus and living out that faith. Who are the faith heroes in your life? Who should you lift up before God in gratitude and thanksgiving?
And then let's take that one step further. Some of the names we wrote on the glass pieces during worship have gone on to glory, but others are still alive. How much would it mean for us to contact those faith heroes who are still around and let them know (by phone, note or email) how they have touched our lives? Our gratitude for people's influence in our lives should not just be expressed at a eulogy in a memorial service. It will mean that much more for people to hear those words of gratitude now while they are still alive.
Happy Thanksgiving All!