In thinking about Thanksgiving, I remember a time in which I reflected on my gratitude or thankfulness. This was a significant turning point in my journey into ministry. I am grateful for the opportunity for this moment of growth.
Early in my journey toward ordination, I was on staff at a church in Oklahoma City and was asked to speak in the morning worship service. Topic: Words of Gratitude. At this point in my journey, I had just made a career change from paralegal to Director of Children and Youth. Up until this point the only time I had spoken in front of a church was to make an announcement about some such something or another that was going on, children's moments on occasion, and I had been asked to be one of the speakers on laity Sunday to give a testimony on my faith journey. My home church attendance averaged around 120; the church at which I was on staff, about 450. My home church - friends, family, etc.; the other church, I probably would have never met the people there if I didn't work there. Home church, not on television; other church televised. Needless to say, I wasn't really sure how to go about getting over my nerves in order to be able to speak, much less on "Words of Gratitude."
Words of Gratitude, I felt the topic was a bit ambiguous. When the Senior Pastor asked me to do this, I didn't really know why or what he wanted. Was it simply for me to express my gratitude to those in my life to whom I was grateful, or did he have some specific thought in mind related to something he wanted to accomplish in the church? Generally speaking, it would be the latter as he always had a motive for most things he did, but he would not elaborate further. So I generally do what I always do in situations where I am not really certain about what is wanted and further information is not forthcoming, I just plowed right through.
Since the church knew I was on a journey toward ordination when I accepted the position there, I began to think about what I was thankful for in this regard. I expressed gratitude to my parents for raising me in a Christian home. I was grateful to my denomination of origin, because although I did not have a voice in that denomination, they still gave me a foundation in faith from which to grow in faith and hear God's calling. I was grateful to my denomination of choice which gave me a voice and the ability to follow God's calling. I was grateful to my home church which sent me forth on this journey with a blessing, and I was grateful to my new church home who welcomed me and enabled me to grow.
To this day, I do not know if this was what he was wanting, as he never said a word to me about it afterward. He was funny like that. I suppose since he wasn't upset, then it must have been okay.