On Nov. 7th, at 7:00 p.m. First Christian will be hosting an Election Eve Prayer Service in partnership with Faith Lutheran Church. This service will remind us to continually pray for all those who will be elected on Tuesday, whether our candidates win or lose. The unity of our faith is greater than the lines drawn by political parties and elections. I hope you will come out on Monday night to prepare for the election by seeking the presence of God.

By the time most of you will read this, I will have completed my fifth decade of life. In the grand scheme, turning 60 isn’t that long to walk through life, until it is your turn to do so. As a child with my birthday the day after Halloween, most of the party atmosphere was spent on the day before, and the approach of Thanksgiving and Christmas could overshadow my birthday. As a child I spent a good number of birthdays being sick, too much candy and/or dramatic changes in temperature in Northeast Ohio could have been the cause.

Now I try to slip my birthday amidst my oldest daughter and youngest daughter’s birthdays (Elisabeth shares Nov. 1 and Micah’s is Nov. 3). It was far easier when they were younger. But the necessity to provide an article for this newsletter has led me to think more deeply about my 59 years of life and the purpose of Thanksgiving.

When we give thanks, we often skim the upper layer of the things for which we should give thanks. We are grateful for family and friends, we are grateful for our success in life and work; we are grateful for overcoming illness and challenges. While this is acceptable and good, what happens when we look more deeply on the times we should have given thanks to God in our lives.

I am grateful for the family into which God placed me. It wasn’t perfect, but then again perfection isn’t the goal. I was loved and given the space to become who I was supposed to become. I lived in a time when I could get on a bicycle and ride all over my hometown with friends and in the summer be home for lunch and supper and dark as my boundaries. I was able to go through school and find my place not in one niche or circle, but rather as a person that connected to most of the members of my class regardless of cliques. I attended a great college and built strong ties to classmates, the same can be said about my seminary experience.

It is with profound gratitude that I give thanks for my wife and children. They have kept me sane and level (excluding those times my children attempted to drive Marsha and I over the edge). Now that they have partners and children, I am grateful that they can be driven into sanity after being driven to the other side as well.

I am also grateful for the opportunity to serve the church in all the different capacities to which I have been led. I am grateful for the good as well as for the not so good, because they have all provided lessons I needed to learn. I am especially grateful for the challenges that lay before me as First Christian seeks to re-vision our mission in Warner Robins. We will move through this time together and with God’s help be the best church for this place and time.

I am grateful for all the saints who have crossed my path and demonstrated how to live Christ-like. These saints performed no miracles as we would define them, but rather miraculously loved, listened, and taught with grace and confidence by the way they lived and treated other people.

We all have several weeks before Thanksgiving arrives. Take this time to look back over your life and remember the names and faces of the saints in your life, the people and events that helped to shape you, the gifts that were given. Also remember the struggles that made you stronger, wiser, more compassionate, more the you that you have become. Then, when you have recalled all the people and events, express that gratitude in all that you say and do to everyone you meet. After all, you might be the very saint that God needs to put in someone else’s path.

Shalom, Darrell