The chill has set in, the leaves are falling, the ground is saturated. It is autumn in all the best ways in Bellingham! Greetings!

I often like to use these monthly Pulse articles to talk about a big idea or focus on something exciting going on in our church’s life together. This month, I want to simply name and list what I am grateful for in what I see God doing in our midst. This is my “Grateful List” for November 2019. 

  • For new members enthusiastically covenanting with our congregation and committing to jump “headfirst” into volunteering and participating.
  • For the youth of St. James, who are stepping up to host the Interfaith Coalition Angel Tree gift drive this coming Advent. And for them all being funny and enthusiastic signs of life around our church!
  • For the bursting St. James Chancel Choir singing a rousing arrangement of “Joshua Fit The Battle of Jericho!”
  • For the faithfulness and generosity of the 2020 pledge drive, people trusting that God will provide all that we need for the year of ministry ahead.
  • For the 9 members of the St. James session, who over the past few months have met together, discussed important and difficult and exciting matters for our church and who are leading our congregation into a new chapter. 
  • For the ways I’ve witnessed so many of our long-time members reaching out and getting to know some of our new visitors, making them feel at home in God’s house, a part of our family. 
  • For Dylan Cisneros, our talented and exuberant new music director, taking on leadership of our music program and inviting in new participants.
  • For our Children, for all their noise, movement, joy and freshness they bring and for our Adults, who patiently, lovingly welcome them into the promises of God each week as if these were their own children and grandchildren.
  • For a huge pile of warm coats, donated to the Interfaith Warm Coat Drive!
  • For abundant snacks, shared for the children at Lowell Elementary across the street!
  • For a church building that is alive with activity every day of the week, providing a place for gathering for diverse community groups, support organizations, and artistic offerings!
  • For the way our deacons quietly care for the many needs of our congregation — behind the scenes, out of the spotlight, and with great love. 
  • For each of you, who make up this congregation, and in your own ways and with your own gifts, carry out the good work of God’s reign among us with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love.

We’ve heard the words of truth from the prophets in our worship over the last month and we know that the realities of the world can seem bleak, desolate, and unsettling so much of the time. Sometimes it seems like we’ve lost our sense of home and the world is hard to recognize. It is gratitude, saying “thanks,” that draws us out of despair and moves us to hope. Saying “thanks” does not solve the problems, but it does make it easier to stand firm, to “take heart,” to resist and seek justice — because we know God is good and God’s goodness cannot, will not be cut off. God’s goodness and mercy and love and providing hand endure. This is the steadfast hope and firm foundation of Christ’s Church and it is the bedrock we stand upon here as a congregation at St. James. 

There is much more we can be grateful for. What is on your list? Write it down, share it with a friend, and praise God for it all! 

Grace and peace,

Pastor Seth

PS: Do you want to talk more about gratitude? Join us for a study of Diana Butler Bass’ book, “Grateful” this month on Sunday evenings. Check your bulletin for announcement details. 

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