Counting Blessings

As I write, Thanksgiving is approaching; Advent, Christmas and the New Year are waiting in line just behind it. Life moves at a steady pace, reminding us how precious is each moment. Beginning our twenty-sixth year in Covenant, we are counting our blessings.

We would like to thank you for your heartfelt prayers and support of our family in the context of Shelton and Scott’s wedding. That evening as we were celebrating their union among their friends in California, we wished we could have stopped time, pushed the pause button. We realized that life doesn’t work that way; at the same time, we remembered that we get to do it all over again on March 10, the blessing of their marriage among our Covenant community. How thrilled we are! And thankful, too, for the many who will be helping with the event.

To prepare our hearts for the celebration of Jesus’ birth, we are practicing gratitude. Thank you for loving our family during these past twenty-five years. We well remember the first, and most important, item on my job description: to nurture our relationship with God, and to nurture our family. With your blessing and encouragement, we have tried to do that. Our marriage has benefitted from your love, and our children have been blessed to see numerous examples of faithful obedience to Jesus Christ in you. Thank you for making clear to all of us the importance and value of growing as Christ’s disciples.

Thank you for serving alongside us and joining us in mission. You have been and continue to be delightful witnesses to our Lord and Savior. We have been strengthened in our faith by your dedicated service. You have inspired us to worship as you served in our choirs, praise and tech teams. You have taught our children about the love of God in Jesus Christ, and you have helped them experience His love. You have rubbed elbows with them in youth events and helped them see what a disciple looks like. Thank you.

Thank you for allowing us to serve together. You have cared for us as a couple and accepted our ministry. We enjoy being and serving together and you have supported our efforts. In so doing, you have strengthened our marriage. We hope our team-oriented ministry has helped you grow as well.

Thank you for accepting a young, inexperienced pastor (I had just turned 34 years of age when we arrived.), exercising patience with my many flaws, and for those moments of encouragement, counsel and love that you gave to me. I can remember moments of discouragement when some of you came alongside me and gave me a word of encouragement that lifted me and gave me the strength to go another day. You have given me grace when I needed it and your commitment to Christ has challenged me to resist mediocrity, and strive for excellence. Thank you for loving and growing us well. You stand as a shining example of a church that loves and grows its leaders well. We believe this is the kind of church Jesus envisions.

Thank you for being a church that offers gracious love to each other and to those outside our fellowship. In moments of failure and weakness, you have extended the gracious love of Jesus Christ to those who are hurting. In doing so, you confirmed for us that Jesus is alive within and among us. You have championed our efforts to move beyond our walls into our community and world. Thank you. You have favored opening doors to everyone who has come to live and serve among us. In your grace, you remind us of Jesus, who surprised many religious leaders when he accepted Zacchaeus, the Samaritan woman at the well, and many others who were different and often outcast. Once again, you remind us of our heavenly Father, who crawled over every barrier in Jesus to love us, even when we were not (or are not) easy to love. Thank you.

As we walk through this Advent journey, we will not be thinking of the gifts we will receive on Christmas Day. Rather, we will be keeping our eyes on the gifts we have already received.

“O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.”

Sing with us one of our favorite hymns: “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”

 Come, thou Fount of every blessing, Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;

Streams of mercy, never ceasing, Call for songs of loudest praise.

Teach me some melodious sonnet, Sung by flaming tongues above;

Praise His name-I’m fixed upon it-Name of God’s redeeming love.

Hither to Thy love has blest me; Thou hast brought me to this place;

And I know Thy hand will bring me Safely home by Thy good grace.

Jesus sought me when a stranger, Wandering from the fold of God;

He, to rescue me from danger, Bought me with His precious blood.

O to grace how great a debtor Daily I’m constrained to be!

Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, Bind my wandering heart to Thee:

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love;

Here’s my heart, O take and seal it; Seal it for Thy courts above.

Have a Blessed Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas,

 

Hal and Jean

Nathan, Chantel, Peyton, Brooks and McClain

Hayden, Jennifer, Camden and McCoy

Scott and Shelton