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Can you believe what the President proclaimed?

When the President of the United States speaks, people notice. That can be good or bad, depending on the nature of the President’s comments. Today is a good day to remember one particular presidential proclamation.

You need to understand the context of these comments. They’re given during a time when the nation is embroiled in an unpopular war, when there’s considerable conflict within our borders concerning matters of racial justice. Despite national economic success, there is cause for concern in many homes and families.

In response, the President, while pointing out the good and bad situations facing the nation, offered this proclamation:

“I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwells in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions [i.e. credit] justly due to Him for such blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the intervention of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.”

Impressive. Proclaiming thanks for God’s blessings, and penitence for our brokenness. And the fervent prayer for God to heal our wounds and provide peace for our land. Pretty insightful comments, considering there were offered in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln, fully 154 years ago. This sounds like a great way to approach Thanksgiving this year for all of us.

As for me, I’m thankful to God for many things, not least of which is each one of you who are (or have been) part of Seneca Creek. Being your pastor is one of God’s greatest blessings. Enjoy this holiday, and continue proclaiming gratitude to our wildly generous God.

-Pastor Mark

Weighing Your Life

At the Pursue Joy Worship Night last Friday we all spent time writing two lists.  And as I wrote my lists I found myself overcome with emotion.

The first list was a list of all our blessings.  Little things like comfortable homes and reliable vehicles.  And really big things like health, and family, and friends.  And super big things like God’s forgiveness, grace, and a second chance.

The second list was a list of trials, difficulties, and broken things.  The point was to give thanks FOR the blessings, and give thanks IN the difficulties, based on God’s instructions in 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

…give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

To be able to thank God in the midst of difficulties is powerful.  But to be reminded of the countless ways God has blessed me…well that one took my breath away.  It’s probably something we could all stand to do a lot more often.  Like, maybe, once or twice a day!  It reminded me of an old hymn we used to sing when I was growing up:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

(You can read the rest of the lyrics here.)

It’s amazing how that little exercise starts to breathe joy back into our life.  It’s like the blessings go on one side of the scale and the junk all goes on the other side.  And when we start weighing the blessings, they ALWAYS outweigh the junk.  Why don’t you take 10 minutes right now?  Take a piece of paper.  Make two columns.  On one side put the blessings.  On the other the junk.  And it will surprise you what “the Lord hath done.”

-Pastor Mark

P.S. Lent started yesterday.  If you’d like to follow along with what some of us at Seneca Creek are doing to use this time to connect with God, check out last week’s post.