“What are you grateful for, Daddy?” I remember my son Chris’s then-small voice coming across the dining room table as we blessed our dinner. Each of us, in turn, would give God thanks for the things we were grateful for, whether a special moment, a kind word, a dear friend…or a new Lego. I am grateful for those moments of childhood wonder in my sons, who are now young men in their 20s.
Many years ago, my mom wrote a mealtime blessing that I didn’t fully appreciate until I was an adult…when I stopped taking life’s blessings for granted. “For love and friends, for home and health, we are most thankful for this wealth. Teach us, Lord, to be kind to all, and to appreciate your bountiful blessings. Amen.” My mom was no theologian, but I remain thankful for her words and for the fact that she and my dad shared the experience of a life of faith with me and my siblings.
I am grateful today for the United Church of Christ and its bold, faithful witness across hundreds of years. I am thankful for Second Congregational UCC in Greenwich, Connecticut, where I was confirmed and for First Congregational UCC in Boulder, where I was ordained. I am grateful for all the people who reflected God’s love and helped me become who I am today.
I am grateful today for Plymouth…for the generations of people on whose shoulders we stand today. For the Volgadeutsch immigrants who founded this church with the help of the Congregational Board for Homeland Missions, which reached out to immigrant communities. I am grateful for the ministry of my predecessor, Fred Edmonds, who served Plymouth for 23 years and helped transform it into a congregation with a heart for social justice. I am grateful for the hundreds of people who form this church today and that it is a beacon for progressive Christianity in northern Colorado.
It’s important to say, “Thanks!” isn’t it? It’s important to express our gratitude, both in word and in deed. “Thanks” to all the people who nurtured us along our life’s path, to the people whose hard work built the church where we now worship, to the people with whom we are bound in covenant.
A few weeks ago, I included this sentence from Desmond Tutu as our Call to Worship: “What we are, what we have, even our salvation…All is gift; all is grace, not to be achieved, but to be received as a gift freely given.” Who is the giver? Who makes the gift of life itself possible? Just as it is important to thank the folks who help us along life’s journey, it’s important to say “Thanks!” to God as well, which is why an offering is a part of our worship. In non-pandemic times, we sing our offering forward with a Doxology: “Praise God from whom all blessings flow!”
What are the ways you say “Thanks!” to God?
This Sunday is Consecration Sunday, when we ask for God’s blessing on our pledges of financial support for our congregation in 2022. It will be a celebration you won’t want to miss, either online or in person, with Beatles and Burritos!
It has been an incredibly tough 20 months of pandemic for all of us, but I am grateful that God has not abandoned us, nor have we abandoned one another. We are making it…something that none of us could do on our own. We are All Together Now! Things still aren’t back to normal, but aren’t you grateful for the ways we are able to connect at Plymouth and with God, even now?
I hope you’ll join me this Sunday as we celebrate, offer thanks, and consecrate our pledges for 2022.
P.S. If you can’t be with us on Sunday, you can pledge online anytime! Just go to plymouthucc.org/pledge or take a picture of this QR code with your smartphone.
The Rev. Hal Chorpenning has been Plymouth's senior minister since 2002. Before that, he was associate conference minister with the Connecticut Conference of the UCC. A grant from the Lilly Endowment enabled him to study Celtic Christianity in the UK and Ireland. Prior to ordained ministry, Hal had a business in corporate communications. Read more about Hal.