I am thankful for so much on this Thanksgiving Day because I refuse to let COVID diminish my deep gratitude for a very long list of blessings.
One of the things I am especially thankful for is all of the United Methodist pastors in Arkansas. They have heard, and responded to, God’s call on their lives to serve in ministry. They go where they are appointed, often at personal sacrifice. They love their congregations and engage the mission field – all the time making disciples of Jesus Christ, who make disciples equipped and sent to transform lives, communities and the world with the redeeming love of Jesus. And they are serving with distinction during this COVID crisis as they strive to keep their congregations safe, serve those who are hurting, and care for their own families.
I hope you are thankful for them as well. Not because you are supposed to be, but because you have experienced firsthand all they are doing during this pandemic. They learn new technological skills so you could still join in worship, Bible study and fellowship. They provide pastoral care for you even when they can’t be with you. They keep in touch with you in the midst of quarantines. They worry about church finances. They bring healing in the midst of great stress and anxiety, often working in isolation. They creatively find ways to engage in mission in your community. And, frankly, they far too often have to deal with unwarranted criticism; often being simultaneously criticized by half their congregation for reopening too quickly and the other half for not reopening quickly enough.
Please take time today to give thanks to God for your pastor. And, then, find a way in the next several days to make sure you let your pastor know how thankful you are for her or him. It won’t relieve all the stress and exhaustion she or he is experiencing – but it will make a bigger difference than you can ever imagine.