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November 2022: Gratefulness for Others

Dear Alpha family and friends,

Before we gather around tables laden with the traditional foods of Thanksgiving, it is fitting to spend a few moments contemplating all the people we are grateful for having in our lives. Family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, and others who add flavor and texture to our worlds by their association. They keep us up when we are down, steady in rocky times, and have some fun when seasons like this roll around.

When God fashioned the creation, He built relationships into every facet of its existence. Climate affects what trees grow where, the strength of hurricanes, and the inches of snow falling from the sky. Wiggly worms in the ground secrete nutrients which enriches soil for growing vegetables and fruit. The earth relies of the moon to sustain the tides of the ocean and the sun to keep it in place to sustain life. Everything everywhere in symbiosis with numerous other lifeforms and natural forces.

The importance of relationships is most clearly seen in us. All through life we a part of a series of interdependent relationships which form our character and nurture our soul. Genetic material from two people facilitates our existence. After nine months developing in a mother’s womb, a doctor or midwife helps us emerge into the world. Then a network of family members, healthcare workers, educators, and childhood friendships collaborate for many years to mature us to adulthood. Once grown up, we set off to form new relationships with all facets of people who need us as much as we need them. Without them, we risk becoming distorted individuals bereft of the love and companionship necessary to be whole beings.

Maybe creation is designed in this way because God loves company. Perhaps He is not the esoteric loner we make Him out to be. Afterall, the Bible scenes of heaven and the throne room have Him continually surrounded by hosts of angels, worshippers, and a fair number of strange-looking creatures. There is a constant cacophony of commotion wherever God is present: jubilant shouting, singing choirs, blaring trumpets, and declarations loudly proclaimed. We seem to never find God sitting all by himself in a quiet place. This suggests that He is most at home surrounded by those He loves and reciprocate it back to Him.

When we were made in God’s image-bearing likeness, it included a need to be in the midst of others. While our culture celebrates individualism with slogans like “have it your way,” the truth is having other people enmeshed in our lives makes life better. They temper our tendency to dabble in narcissism. They help us from lapsing into gloom when bad things suddenly strike us, and they amplify our joy during our celebratory moments with their cheers. So, when we sit down to stuff ourselves with turkey and trimmings this week, let us take a moment to tell those at the table how wonderful it is to share life with them. How much they make life more interesting and meaningful. Let them know you are a happier, more grateful person because of them.

While we are in the frame of mind of gratitude, may we also convey our thanks to God for building the capacity of relationship in our being. It is because He placed a bit of His nature in us that we are able to love and befriend those who we share life with while we reside in this world. Relationships help us understand God’s heart and why He labors so relentlessly to restore the creation to be as He intended. So let us give thanks to God with sincere hearts for all that we have and enjoy during this season of Thanksgiving.

Blessings to you all, Pastor Kevin

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