Friends in the Community,

Greetings to each and every one of you from God our loving heavenly Father and our living Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I hope and pray that this finds all of you well on this beautiful Friday in God’s creation!

As I begin this article, I want to say something we do not say to people very often. I want to say, “Thank you.”

I want to thank all of you for taking the time to read through my articles each time they are published. I want to thank you for the support that you give to all of the faith communities in Oelwein and the surrounding area. I want to thank you for the ways that you share your faith with other people and with me. I want to thank you for being faithful children of God in our community, in our places of business and in our schools. I want to thank you for being you!

How often do you begin conversations and interactions this way? How often do you take the time to thank the people God has placed in your lives at specific times and in specific places? How often do you thank the people you come into contact with for being part of your daily life?

Too often, we take other people for granted. We do not see them for being true gifts of God who are placed in our lives at just the right time and in just the right place.

We spend a lot of time disagreeing with other people or see some people as being in the way of our getting what we want in life. Because we see other people this way and treat them in this way, we lose track of why those people are so special. Since we do not see them as being special, we do not thank them for being with us just when we need them the most.

This is a problem not only in our communities. It is has become a problem throughout our current societal context.

When we turn on the television or tune into a news web page, we are instantly hit by more stories of how people are not getting along and how they are disagreeing about this topic or that topic. It is leading to deep divides and brokenness in personal relationships, and it is leading to some people taking very dangerous paths.

People often wonder how we can make a difference when problems seem so huge and out of our control. What can we do to make a change that could have a large impact on a world that needs change makers?

This is a question that seems to have many complicated answers.

What if the answer is not as complicated as we are making it? What if the answer came down to our being willing to be grateful for the people God has placed in our lives instead of taking them for granted and trying to outdo them? Big changes, sometimes, start in small ways.

If I thank you for being a gift from God to me, and you thank your neighbor for being a gift from God to you, then that person thanks someone else for being a gift from God to them. The cycle continues until many people suddenly feel appreciated and also understand how important each person in their life is to them in some way or another.

This is the life that God wants from us.

He calls us, through St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 9, when St. Paul writes that God loves a cheerful giver. God loves people who are willing to give thanks from the heart for the people He has placed in our lives. We share this love by sharing our appreciation for the people who have been there and who continue to be there at the right time in the right place!

Just a thought…

Pastor Josh