The Apostle Paul could write some pointed letters, but he never forgot his manners. With one exception (Galatians), Paul always began his letters with a word of thanks. Paul was thankful that the Christians in Corinth abounded in spiritual gifts. He gave thanks that there was so much love for all the saints in the church in Ephesus. Paul thanked God that both faith and love were on the increase among the Thessalonians. Of course there was more to Paul’s words of thanks than good manners. Paul’s thanksgivings both encouraged good behavior and gave credit for good behavior where it was due: the grace of God working in the church.
We should all probably say Thank You more often than we do. So let me begin! I am thankful for the faith in God that is so evident at First Presbyterian Church. When we opened the doors of the sanctuary on Tuesday, August 29, a steady stream of people dropped by to pray for the seriously ill and for seemingly intractable situations. Others who could not be physically present at the church united their spirits with the spirits of those here at 16 Hitt Street. You believe that with God all things are possible, so you are not reluctant to make your requests known to God (Mk. 10:27, Phil. 4:6).
I am thankful for the generous spirit that abides in this congregation. I just turned aside from writing this Epistle article to sign some checks. Many of the checks were to local agencies our annual budget supports, including the Mid-Missouri Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, the Central Missouri Food Pantry, and Turning Point. Your pledges and offerings makes our support of these agencies possible. God has planted a spirit of generosity in your hearts, and God is reaping the harvest as the hungry are fed, the poor find help making ends meet, and the aged and their care-givers receive much-needed support.
I give thanks for your love of children and youth, and your desire to nurture a new generation of disciples. MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) is gearing up for another year of providing Christian encouragement for CoMO area moms right here at FPC. Autistic young adults in our community are acquiring job skills via EnCircle Technologies, whose classes are held in our facilities. This fall, our UKirk Ministry is launching a new Sunday school class for college students, and our youth group is kicking off an exciting new year of service, spiritual growth, and fellowship, led by our brand new staff person, Robert Newman. I thank God for the ministry teams, volunteers, prayers, and financial support that makes these ministries possible.
Finally, thank you for praying for me. It is a great privilege and an awesome responsibility to be your pastor. I could not fulfill this mission without the grace of God. I am grateful that you are lifting me up, so that, with God’s help, I can serve Christ and his church with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love.