The apostle Paul often began his letters to the various churches by expressing his thanks for the congregation. “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you…” he says to the Christians in Rome. “We always thank God for all of you…” he says to the Thessalonians. With the Thanksgiving weekend upon us, I would like to express some of the reasons I am thankful for you, Bethel.
· I am thankful that the waters of faith run deep in this community. For many, many of you, your faith has matured over the years, sometimes going back generations, sometimes through suffering, with the result that you are deeply and solidly rooted in Christ.
· I am thankful for the swift current of prayer that runs through Bethel. My heart is often warmed as I cry out to God with the dozen or so people who come to Bethel each Wednesday morning at 6:30 a.m. to pray. Many have made prayer part of their personal and family lives. We have ministries specifically to provide prayer, and increasingly, all of our ministries are relying on prayer.
· No doubt because of the above two reasons, I am thankful that my work is a joy. So many Pastors I know would be thrilled to minister where life-changing things are always percolating in the church community, driven by the Holy Spirit. This is my weekly experience. Jesus is touching lives in little and big ways, and I am swimming hard to keep up with the waves of blessing.
· I am thankful that Bethel has a good reputation in the neighbourhood. A number of people from the community have told me recently that Bethel is regarded as a church that cares.
· I am thankful for my small group - a dedicated band of Bethelites from my neighbourhood who are fellow-travelers on the journey of growing deep in relationship, committed to the adventure of finding ways to touch others with the love of Christ.
· I am thankful because I regularly have encounters in which I will witness a Bethel member serving others lovingly, self-sacrificially, joyfully, and without fanfare. It never fails to humble me.
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